An attorney for a 34-year-old man, who alleges he was roughed up by an Orange County sheriff’s deputy in Stanton, alleged Tuesday that Orange County officials are rigging how they classify brutality allegations to keep them out of the hands of defense attorneys in court cases.
Assistant Public Defender Scott Sanders filed a motion Tuesday asking Orange County Superior Court Judge Kevin Haskins to release the transcript of a hearing he held in private to go over allegations a deputy tried to conceal a use of force report regarding his client, Mohamed Sayem.
Sayem is charged with a felony count of resisting arrest and a misdemeanor count of public intoxication. Sayem passed out in his SUV outside the Corner Pocket Bar about 5:30 a.m. Aug. 19, prompting a call to deputies to check on his welfare, Sanders said.
Sanders said one of the deputies dragged Sayem out of the vehicle and put him in a bear hug, despite claiming in his official report that Sayem tugged on his safety vest, compelling a use of force.
And with Sayem on the ground, the defendant asked, “Are you going to shoot me,” Sanders said, adding the deputy responded, “like to.”
Sanders argues in the motion that sheriff’s officials have a policy of only turning over information about brutality allegations if they were found to be valid or an internal affairs investigation is conducted.
Sanders said that goes against legal precedence which calls for any use-of-force information in a deputy’s background to be turned over to defense attorneys when requested in what is known in court as a Pitchess motion.
A message sent to a sheriff’s spokesman was not immediately returned.
Sanders estimates there could be up to 3,681 use of force incidents in Orange County that sheriff’s officials over the past five years wrongly deemed unavailable in a Pitchess motion.
Sanders also pointed out that Senate Bill 1421 requires the release of use of force investigation results, but the sheriff’s department has only “posted investigative documents and recordings related to a mere 12 incidents involving serious bodily injury resulting from use of force since 2014, with none of those posted incidents occurring after 2016, and all conveniently involving conduct found to be `in policy,”’ Sanders wrote in his motion.
A year ago when Sanders made initial claims of brutality against is client, then-Sheriff Sandra Hutchens fired back with a 15-minute video claiming the deputy had trouble rousing the passed-out Sayem and that he appeared “extremely intoxicated and belligerent” and that “appropriate use of force” was used when he wouldn’t comply with commands to exit the vehicle.
>> Want to read more stories like this? Get our Free Daily Newsletters Here!Follow us: