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Man accuses El Monte police of brutality

August 26, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
Allegations of brutality have been leveled against El Monte police after a suspect was seriously injured during a violent arrest.

The man's attorney has filed a legal claim against the city.

"It is just too much pain right now, that's it," said the alleged victim Cornelio "David" Chavez. "I am in a lot of pain everywhere, physically in a lot of pain - my vision, legs, head, everything."

There was bruising on Chavez's body and on his brain, according to hospital records. He, with his attorney at his side, said he lost 85 percent of his eyesight after a violent encounter with El Monte police officers.

"This is way worse than Rodney King," said Chavez's attorney Brad Gage. "You look at the Rodney King beating, consider that, and look at this beating - how long this lasted, how bad the injuries are."

The circumstances though are in dispute. The police department says they have nothing to hide. Officials acknowledge that Chavez was hurt during the arrest, but say that the officers were injured too.

"It appears the officers did nothing wrong," said El Monte Police Chief Steve Schuster. "They are back to their regular duties."

Schuster says officers went to Chavez's apartment to arrest him for a parole violation. There was a tip that he was under the influence of drugs and acting erratically.

Gage says that dozens of officers turned up at the residence and showed pictures of bloody walls - signs he says shows use of excessive force.

"Maybe he ran, maybe they didn't like him for whatever reason," said Gage.

However, Schuster says only four officers were there initially to arrest Chavez, who was wanted on charges stemming from a previous burglary, a narcotics count and evading arrest.

Guns were drawn as they searched the apartment. Out of a laundry barrel, Chavez allegedly lunged for an officer's weapon.

"He struck him one time on the side of his head," said Schuster.

Schuster says a struggle continued and officers called for backup. That's when he said police swarmed in.

Gage denies that his client was on drugs. Yet Friday afternoon, Schuster obtained information on toxicology tests.

"We have a blood sample that came out that tested positive for amphetamines," said Schuster. "We are going to be going back to the district attorney's office to pursue a filing on that."

Chavez now faces many new charges, including four counts of resisting arrest and two counts of assault on a police officer.

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