WATCH: Jury Backs Woman Who Claimed Excessive Force During Traffic Stop

August 11, 2016

CUPERTINO — A woman was awarded $40,000 by a federal jury after claiming two Santa Clara County sheriff’s deputies used excessive force when they shoved her against her car during a 2014 traffic stop.

Shiow-Huey Chang alleged in a civil rights lawsuit that she was pulled out of her car along the roadside of Foothill Expressway on June 11, 2014, by deputies Daniel Forest and Rachel Strickland after refusing to sign a traffic citation. She was arrested for resisting arrest, a charge that was eventually dropped.

The jury award mostly covered Chang’s legal expenses from defending herself against the resisting arrest charge, her attorney Jim McManis said. He added that the jury also affirmed his client’s contention that Sheriff Laurie Smith approved the deputies’ actions in dismissing Chang’s internal affairs complaint about the encounter.

The Sheriff’s Office and county stand by the deputies.

“Although the jury awarded plaintiff only $40,000 in damages, we are disappointed by the verdict,” county counsel Orry Korb said in a statement. “We continue to believe that the officers acted appropriately and are considering our options.”

On the day of the encounter, which was recorded on the dashboard camera of Forest’s patrol vehicle, Forest was driving in the area of Foothill Expressway when Chang’s maroon Lexus SUV tried to slow down and pull over, which she contended was to let the deputy pass her on the road. However, Chang, a registered nurse, claims she could not fully pull over because of cyclists in the bicycle lane.

In the video, which was provided to this newspaper by McManis, Forest pulled up next to Chang and could be heard saying, “Why are you (expletive) stopping?”

Moments later, Forest stopped Chang, and she refused to sign the citation and instead asked to speak to the deputy’s supervisor. The lawsuit claims an exasperated Forest, now joined by Deputy Strickland, “grabbed her arm, ripped her out of her car, twisted her about, and pushed her head against the car, breaking her glasses and cutting her face.”

But the two-minute video provided also has a clear editing break, which sources in the Sheriff’s Office claim contains a part of the encounter where Chang pushed or slapped at Forest, which led to the more aggressive physical encounter.

In addition to the excessive-force claim, Chang alleges in her lawsuit that Forest was not properly disciplined after a 2007 encounter with another McManis client who claimed she was unlawfully arrested and received a $300,000 settlement from the county.

The Deputy Sheriffs’ Association, which represents rank-and-file deputies, declined to comment on the case.


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Filming Cops
Filming Cops 5618 posts

Filming Cops was started in 2010 as a conglomerative blogging service documenting police abuse. The aim isn’t to demonize the natural concept of security provision as such, but to highlight specific cases of State-monopolized police brutality that are otherwise ignored by traditional media outlets.

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