Parolee files claim, alleging El Monte police beat him
A 35-year-old parolee has filed a claim against the city of El Monte and its Police Department alleging that he has lost much of his eyesight after he was beaten by officers.
Cornelio David Chavez, 35, was involved in a violent altercation June 24 with several El Monte police officers who were seeking to arrest him on an outstanding warrant, police said.
Brad Gage, Chavez’s attorney, in a claim filed against the city, alleges that Chavez "was handcuffed by EI Monte police officers. Chavez was not resisting arrest. Nevertheless, several officers beat him, without justification." The claim is a precursor to a lawsuit.
Gage alleges when Chavez's 3-year-old nephew Jonathan tried to come to his aid, "One or more officers pulled out either a gun or a Taser gun to point it at the 3-year-old." Gage said several family members, including Chavez's mother, witnessed parts of the incident.
Gage said police broke many of the bones in Chavez's face, and he is now 85% blind. Police said they are investigating the allegations but that Chavez allegedly pounced on officers and was struck in the head when he went for an officer's gun.
In a prepared statement, El Monte Police Chief Steve Schuster said that officers went to the address of the parolee after receiving a tip that the suspect was under the influence of drugs. A criminal background check revealed he had a felony no-bail warrant with pending charges for weapons and assault on an officer.
"When they arrived, El Monte police found the suspect hiding in a closet of the residence, Schuster said. “The suspect emerged and immediately engaged the officers in a heated physical struggle resulting in the injury of one of the officers. The suspect also displayed behavior of someone under the influence of narcotics. During the violent struggle, Chavez is believed to have been struck in the head when one of the officers felt the suspect reaching for his service-issued weapon."
The department says that officers immediately got Chavez medical treatment and took him to Greater El Monte Hospital before he was airlifted to Loma Linda Medical Center.
The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office has charged Chavez with resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer in connection with the incident.
— Richard Winton