Thanks to new information from an internal investigation being made public, we know more about a 2020 incident where a Cathedral City police officer struck a driver multiple times in the leg, breaking his ankle.
First things first: Video of the November 2020 incident surfaced on social media last month and showed several officers in the process of arresting a driver when another officer leaped over the hood of a police car and began striking the driver with a baton.
- The driver is Jose Lenor Garcia, and the Officer striking him is Jeffrey Aguirre. Aguirre is no longer with the police department, but the reason for his departure is not known.
- This all started when Garcia allegedly sped away after being pulled over for a minor moving violation. Officers began chasing him through a neighborhood. Garcia briefly stopped at his parents’ house before taking off again, with officers in pursuit.
New information: The details from the internal investigation, reported Tuesday by The Desert Sun, reportedly reveal that two other officers there for the pursuit and a third member of the police department all thought the baton beating was unnecessary.
- Further, Aguirre’s supervisor thought the pursuit should have been called off altogether, the paper reported, saying that pursuit was not justified for a minor moving violation. Garcia and officers reportedly reached high speeds in a residential neighborhood, putting the public at risk.
Yes, but: Aguirre reportedly gave several reasons for why he thought the beating was necessary in the moment. He said he used the baton because he didn’t know whether or not Garcia was armed, and he thought Garcia was a gang member because of a comment from a dispatcher.
He also mentioned that he and the other officers were in a “bad neighborhood” and that Garcia had already shown he was dangerous because of the pursuit, and because it looked like Garcia was getting free from the arresting officers.
- Aguirre’s bodycam was not on because he thought the batter was dead, according to the report.
- When asked if Garcia could have been arrested without the beating, Aguirre reportedly answered “possibly.”