California Man Sues Police Department Over Confrontation In Viral Video

Screen-Shot-2016-05-20-at-12.40.04-PM-640x843There is a development in the case of Officer David Rodriguez who was shown in the now viral video below pulling his gun on a citizen who was videotaping him. He was placed on paid administrative leave by the department in Rohnert Park (50 miles from San Francisco) but he was later restored to his position after a finding that he did not act improperly. Millions have watched the videotape and clearly disagree. Rohnert Park resident Don McComas is now suing the officer and the city of Rohnert Park for unspecified damages over the July 29 incident.

McComas says that he was in front of his own residence putting a trailer to his vehicle when Rodriguez drove up and he began filming him with his cellphone. What followed was the confrontation below. McComas objected to Rodriguez observing him from his patrol car and ordering McComas to take his hand out of his pocket. At one point, Rodriguez asks “Are you some kind of constitutionalist crazy guy?”

The problem for the department is that an officer is only allowed to draw his weapon when he is in fear of his safety or the public. The city commissioned an independent third-party investigator, Sue Ann Van Dermyden, to investigate the incident. She determined Rodriguez “reasonably exercised his right to stop and have contact with the resident and did so for legitimate reasons and not for the purpose of harassing or mistreating the resident.” The city says that Rodriguez was investigating complaints about parking code violations and he was checking a vehicle’s registration:

“The officer saw the resident quickly duck behind the truck after his patrol car came into view. The officer considered this suspicious behavior, and decided to investigate further . . . After the officer got out of his patrol car, he also noticed other unusual behavior, including the resident’s agitated demeanor and his initial refusal to comply with the officer’s instruction to remove his hand from his pocket, which had a bulge in it.”

The position of the city is that the combination of the bulge and the refusal to remove his hand was sufficient to draw the weapon.

What do you think?

38 thoughts on “California Man Sues Police Department Over Confrontation In Viral Video”

  1. Are we sure this isn’t the Rohnert Park bicycle patrol caper?

    The cop was baiting him. The conversation was about the resident’s (legal) use of a camera, and the resident was clearly stable in his verbal narrative . . . until the cop got out of the car. Getting out of the patrol car was to intimidate the resident and demand submission (prior to drawing the weapon) in retribution for being filmed. It explains why the cop presented his own camera while seated in the car and why he ask if the resident was a constitutionalist “crazy” guy.

    That’s high school stuff, and the cop let his ego get the better of him. Ego is why the cop’s final act in the vignette was to show a dominance over the resident’s property by coming onto the property, stepping over the fellow’s trailer hitch, and rounding the resident’s vehicle rather than turning 180 degrees and directly walking back to his patrol car.

    That said, if the resident had his hand in his pocket, even before being asked to take his hand out of his pocket, I think the cop was justified in drawing his weapon, even if he initiated the incident. Cops deserve to go home in one piece after their shifts.

    As hard as it is for cops to realize that not everyone thinks they’re heroes to be worshiped by default, the City and the cop should pay damages for this harassment. The cop obviously let his ego get the better of him.

  2. ” Did you notice the ‘officer’ used his camera to take a picture of the plaintiff before he got out of the vehicle?

    I missed that. Geez.

  3. The officer made a simple request that Mr. McComas remove his hand from his pocket! If Mr. McComas had complied the this contact would have been nothing more than one of the millions of police contact’s that occur every day.

    Mr. McComas clearly has a history with the police and seemed to be looking for a problem.

    It’s really simple folks the police have a very difficult job to do. In the field comply with their request if you feel some policy was not followed or you were wronged file a complaint, contact a lawyer, contact the news media. Do not fight the police in the street because you are going to lose that battle.

    38 police officer have been killed in the line of duty this year!!

    1. Wade – there is a lot of background here. The officer (I use the term loosely) could have asked him to take his hand out of his pocket with drawing his pistol. The whole thing was a set-up. A ruse. He was there to hassle the homeowner. Did you notice the ‘officer’ used his camera to take a picture of the plaintiff before he got out of the vehicle? He had already run the plates. He had NO reason to get out of the vehicle.

  4. In the civil lawsuit the city needs to take the plaintiff’s deposition and inquire into his mental history. He is clearly wacko.

  5. cop says, are you a constitutionalist crazy guy? if a regular person has a sense of their rights does that make them crazy?

  6. Not enough information.
    1. He and his family have had brushes with the law.
    2. Maybe a neighbor called about a prowler, or McComas.
    3. Why not take your hand out of your pocket?
    4. What the hell is the cop doing saying “Are you some kind of constitutionalist crazy guy?” Totally inappropriate. And maybe it has something to do with McComas and his family having had brushes with the law.
    5. They could both be being jerks.
    6. There is so little trust between cops and serfs, er “citizens,” anymore, making confrontations like these more likely. Very sad.

    From the non-LEO side, more and more I get the sense I am dealing with a Roman centurion on a horse, and I should ‘assume the position’ whenever they come by.
    We seem to be approaching the Soviet era of random arrests for non-crimes, fearing the midnight knock on the door, never to be seen again (watch the recent movie “Child 44” t see what that fear was like.).

  7. I ask again what did he mean “you guys have done enough to my family” and why is he saying “the officers station is corrupt”? According to what he is saying you can figure he or his family have had brushes with the law before. The video is telling us nothing.

  8. This guy is being a nut job. He’s clearly agitated and acting suspicious from the get go. I don’t blame the officer and I would have done the same thing. This guy looks like he’s about to snap and I would have been ready to drop his ass.

  9. I don’t see any reason for the officer to stop or get out of his vehicle. He certainly had no reason to pull his gun. I think the cop was upset that he as being videotaped, so he decided to intimidate the guy. The plaintiff should prevail. As far as the citizen having his hand in his pocket, it couldn’t have been for very long. He was obviously holding his camera with one hand, and we could see him gesturing with the other. Yet the cop kept his gun out nearly the whole time. Bottom line, it was an ego issue with the cop and he abused his position.

  10. The complainer is a whiner. I would not want him as a neighbor. Whine, whine, bo bine. If he had his hand in his pocket he was asking for the cop to pull the gun. The gun was pointed down.

  11. I do not believe the officer’s story. There was no reason for him to pull the pistol. He had plenty of time to decide if he had a weapon or not. He was harassing him and intimidating him. And as others have said, there is a background story here.

    Given the over-reach by police lately, I disagree with Darren. I think the plaintiff is going to win.

  12. Officer Rodriguez had to make out a police report for this. What does he say vs. video?
    Also, was officer Rodriguez wearing a body cam? Did Rodriguez’s senior commanders specify ongoing investigations involving residents hooking up a boat trailer to an SUV on homeowner property?

  13. Folks,

    It’s 02:55 AM here and I am just arriving home. So, I’m a bit tired and will provide my analysis on this article after I have a night’s sleep.

    Is it really too much to ask to take your hands out of your pocket when asked by a Law Enforcement Officer? We have faced a lot of dangerous people and we do not know who or what we are dealing with when encountering people, especially ones that are openly hostile. LEO’s just want to go home alive and safe after the end of their shift. Rather than make such an incident about it. All that needs to be done is remove your hands from the pocket when asked and nothing more will happen. They don’t know if there is a weapon. It isn’t that difficult to comply with. And because of this incident something so small mushroomed into becoming a federal issue–all for nothing.

    In the end, I don’t think the plaintiff will prevail on this lawsuit. His claim lacks credibility in my view because he states that he was in fear for his life, yet he continues to argue and confront this officer. And more analysis to come when I have time.

    Folks, if you are asked to take your hands out of your pockets when in conversation with a LEO, just do it. It isn’t difficult or too much to ask. Just extend them the courtesy. Remember, they put their personal safety on the line every day they sign in service. Why be jerk about it? It does nobody any good.

  14. The cop should be fired for pulling that weapon. There was clearly no need to do so. He acted like an ass throughout the entire affair, and I would fear for my family knowing that reckless abusive, reckless bully was patrolling my neighborhood.

    Hope Rohnert Park gets sued into oblivion and loses.

  15. This video isnt related to police stalking but i know it is one Professor Turley will be interested in.

  16. You want to see something? Take a look at this. The man documenting everything sounded like a loon at first. Then you watch his videos and discover rather sinister doings by the police. This isnt the first time a force has done something like this either.

  17. no one trust anyone anymore and that will keep us fighting and bickering with each other while the wealthy bankers and weapons makers continue to rape the nation and bomb innocent people for profit.

  18. This guy was apparently looking for a confrontation. What did mean early on “you guys have done enough to my family”? Obviously this was not the first confrontation with the police. He mentions that the station the officer comes from is corrupt. I would like to know the whole story. I’m quite happy to see a patrol vehicle drive through the neighborhood. That’s what they are paid to do.

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