SAN JOSE — Attorneys for the City of San Jose have reached a $700,000 settlement with a man who filed a federal excessive-force lawsuit against three San Jose police officers who struck him with batons during a 2015 DUI stop.
The settlement, which goes before the City Council for approval Tuesday, fulfills a federal jury award to San Jose resident Eliel Paulino after ruling in his favor in July.
According to the federal civil complaint and the City Attorney’s Office, around 2 a.m. on Aug. 16, 2015, Paulino was driving in San Jose when he was pulled over for a vehicle code violation. Paulino’s attorney contends that it was for not having a front-license-plate light.
The city states in its settlement notice that three officers — Marco Cruz, Gerardo Silva and Gurbaksh Sohal — “were required to use force while investigating (Paulino) for driving under the influence of alcohol,” and that Paulino “received more than a dozen baton strikes in his upper arm area as police officers tried to release his arms from under his body as he laid face-down on the ground after falling while he was being taken into custody.”
Paulino and his attorney agree on the physical force use, but contend that Paulino “remained calm” during the police stop and “at no time did Mr. Paulino argue, challenge or question the officers.”
Meanwhile, Paulino’s father watched from his nearby apartment window — Paulino had pulled into his home’s parking lot when the police encounter began — and Paulino purportedly told his father to lock up his truck in case he was arrested. Paulino contends that this incensed the officers, and that “without warning or provocation,” was tackled to the ground and hit with batons. At least part of the encounter was captured by a surveillance camera.
Paulino states in his civil complaint that he “suffered puncture wounds to his right arm from baton strikes and had four staples inserted to stabilize his right arm.” The lawsuit also notes that the subsequent misdemeanor DUI and resisting arrest charges were eventually dropped.
The city settlement would pay Paulino $450,000 and $250,000 to the office of his attorney, Jaime Leaños, for legal costs, drawn from the city’s claims reserve fund.
“It’s a situation where given the jury verdict, this is not a bad settlement,” City Attorney Rick Doyle said.