Clovis man to receive nearly $1 million settlement in police brutality case




  • In US
  • 2021-12-04 00:14:43Z
  • By Fresno Bee
 

A Clovis man who accused Clovis Police of using excessive force against him has settled his lawsuit against the department for $720,000.

Bryon Espinosa, 50, alleges that Officer Timothy Dronek and several other officers came to his home in the 700 block of Acacia Drive on Jan. 28, 2019 to investigate a neighbor dispute over trash cans.

As officers approached him, Espinosa told them to leave his property. He started walking toward his front door when Dronek charged toward Espinosa subduing him and slamming him to the ground, according to the lawsuit.

"After he was handcuffed near the walkway to his front door, Mr. Espinosa was dragged into the yard where he was again slammed to the ground, face-first onto the concrete driveway," the lawsuit states.

Espinosa's lawyer, Charles Tony Piccuta of Monterey, said as a result of the takedown Espinosa suffered a right hip dislocation and multiple fractures, which later required two hip surgeries. He also still has pain in his leg, Piccuta said.

Espinosa filed a lawsuit against the City of Clovis in March 2020 alleging violation of his civil rights, battery by a police officer and assault.

Dronek and the City of Clovis have denied the allegations. A message left for the police spokesperson was not returned.

A police report of the incident said officers responded to a call from a neighbor who said someone knocked over her garbage can and threw garbage on her lawn.

When Dronek and Officer Erica Lowery arrived they were told by another officer that Espinosa needed to be questioned. The officers approached him, but he refused to cooperate.

Espinosa started walking away from the officers when he "made a quick sprint" toward the house, Dronek said in the report. Dronek then grabbed Espinosa and pulled him to the ground, according to the report.

Dronek said he didn't know if Espinosa was going inside to grab a gun or if he was going to barricade himself, according to the report. The officer also stated that Espinosa was verbally aggressive and appeared to be under the influence of alcohol and or drugs.

Piccuta admits Espinosa made some derogatory comments to the officers, but he said that isn't against the law.

"My client has the right to call him whatever he wants, he is allowed to do that and not suffer retaliation in the form of physical force," Piccuta said. "He grabbed him and did not let him go into the house. There was nothing urgent happening. He was there to investigate why a trash can was knocked over."

Piccuta said that although Espinosa was arrested for resisting or obstructing a police officer, it does not appear that he was ever charged with a crime.

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