Police pursue bystander injured by deputies, suing LA County

As deputies closed in on a chase suspect after a violent pursuit in Southern California, Adrian Cruz sat down at a red light with his family. The suspect rammed their car, and within seconds, according to Cruz, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s deputies slammed his head into the asphalt.

On Wednesday, Cruz and her family filed a lawsuit against LA County outlining a series of allegations including false arrest, excessive force and violation of her civil rights.

After the suspect crashed into Cruz’s car and then into a Hacienda Heights gas station at the end of a Nov. 9 pursuit that spanned Orange and Los Angeles counties, deputies have opened fire, while news helicopters broadcast the pursuit on live television.

When Cruz got out of his car in an attempt to get his wife and son to safety, he claims, deputies tackled him to the ground, beat and handcuffed him for about 45 minutes as his family watched. , confused and terrified.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has not had a chance to review the complaint and is not commenting on pending litigation, a spokesperson said in an email.

The hour-long high-speed chase began in Fullerton around 4.45pm when officers spotted a black Honda Civic committing a traffic violation. When they attempted to arrest the driver, he sped off, followed by officers.

Johnny Anchondo, 32, of Moreno Valley is accused of leading police and sheriff’s deputies in a wild chase, crashing into police cruisers and at one point crashing into a house in Whittier, to seize the keys to a van to continue the pursuit with the stolen car.

According to the lawsuit, Cruz was stopped at a red light in his car with his wife, Amanda Sainz, and their son at Hacienda Boulevard and Gale Avenue when Anchondo rammed them.

After that first impact, Cruz said, he felt another crash as deputies rammed patrol cars into the suspect’s vehicle.

Deputies then began shooting at the suspect’s car.

According to the suit, Cruz, “quickly jumped out of his vehicle to help his wife.”

It was then that deputies “suddenly tackled and violently began to hit [Cruz] in his head while grabbing his head and smashing it to the ground,” according to the lawsuit.

Deputies reportedly restrained Cruz while his wife and son ran to safety.

Cruz was then held in a police car, handcuffed, for about 45 minutes, without being told why by deputies.

The lawsuit alleges Cruz “was an innocent bystander, posed no immediate threat of death or grievous bodily harm, and violated no law.”

Cruz was released, but the suit alleges the deputies attempted to cover up the incident by “providing false testimony” and “preparing or authorizing or approving false police reports.”

After the chase, a spokesperson for the sheriff’s department told KCAL that Cruz was arrested because he refused to move out of the line of fire.

According to the lawsuit, Cruz suffered multiple bruises and cuts to his face, head and body.

Los Angeles Times

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