.Updated: Judge orders ex-San Rafael cops to stand trial for felony assault

Editor’s Note: This article was updated with additional information on Tuesday, Dec. 19.

A Marin County judge has ordered two former San Rafael police officers accused of beating a local man to stand trial on felony assault charges. However, only one of the defendants still faces the charge of making false statements in a police report.

After deliberating for 10 days, Judge Beth Jordan ruled on Dec. 15 that there is sufficient evidence for both defendants, Brandon Nail and Daisy Mazariegos, to answer to the charge of assault by an officer under color of authority. Each defendant is also confronted by a sentencing enhancement for causing great bodily injury to Julio Jimenez Lopez, who was stopped for having an open container of beer.

In addition, Nail will be tried for making false statements in a crime report, also a felony. The judge determined Mazariegos did not make false statements in her police report; instead she only reported what Nail had told her.

Jordan spent several minutes explaining her reasons for the decisions, which she based on the arguments presented during the preliminary hearing, a review of documents and case law, and watching videos from the police officers’ body-worn cameras.

On July 27, 2022, Mazariegos stopped Jimenez Lopez and his two friends for “the potential crime of three young men drinking in public,” the judge said. The incident took place on Windward Way in the Canal area of San Rafael, just before 7pm. Mazariegos’ initial intention was to see if the men had warrants or were on probation, according to Jordan.

During the preliminary hearing, Mazariegos testified that she planned on giving the men warnings if they had no previous citations for drinking in public. Otherwise, she intended to issue citations and release them.

Mazariegos told the men to sit on the curb and take out their identification. Initially, all three followed her instructions. Nail soon appeared at the scene, responding to Mazariegos’ request for back-up.

“When Mr. Nail arrived, the tenor changed,” Jordan said.

While Jimenez Lopez stood and didn’t sit down again, Jordan stated she didn’t consider his action aggressive. Nonetheless, Nail said, “Sit the fuck down,” leaving Jimenez Lopez confused, the judge said.

Mazariegos and Nail decided to handcuff Jimenez Lopez, but he resisted, Mazariegos said at the hearing. Nail then used a “leg sweep”—a maneuver to force Jimenez Lopez to the ground—although it caused all three to fall. As they fell, Jimenez Lopez grasped onto Nail’s vest with three fingers of his right hand, while also holding his license between his thumb and forefinger, Mazariegos testified.

“Mr. Nail and Ms. Mazariegos grabbed Mr. Lopez and took him to the ground with more force than reasonably necessary,” Jordan said.

That use of force by the then-officers, which also included Nail punching Jimenez Lopez in the nose with a closed fist, resulted in great bodily injury. Jimenez Lopez testified in October that he suffered a broken nose, concussion and injuries to both knees and shoulders, with the left shoulder requiring surgery.

Nail’s police report stated Jimenez Lopez attempted to put him in a headlock and struck him on the head several times. Based on the videos, Jordan said she doesn’t believe these actions occurred.

Additionally, Jordan rejected the defense’s argument that it became necessary for Nail to punch Jimenez Lopez when he grabbed the former officer’s vest containing oleoresin capsicum (pepper) spray and a Taser. Jimenez Lopez’s hand was “nowhere near getting anything on the vest,” according to the judge.

“I’m just not seeing that he was aggressive, hostile or a threat to the officers,” Jordan said.

The judge concluded by saying that without Nail’s intervention, the situation could have been resolved as Mazariegos stated she had intended.

Prosecutor Geoff Iida said the result was what he expected.

It was not, however, what Julia Fox, defense attorney for Nail, expected. She has long maintained that District Attorney Lori Frugoli capitulated to public outcry when she filed charges against Nail and Mazariegos. The judge’s ruling is another poor decision, according to Fox.

“I’m incredulous,” Fox said. “We’re here on emotion.”

During the hearing, Sean McCann, a police use of force expert hired by the defense, testified that Nail and Mazariegos were justified in their actions because they determined Jimenez Lopez posed a risk to their safety. Fox believes this is an essential part of the case that the judge missed.

“I feel really frustrated and disappointed because the judge’s rationale made very clear to me that she does not have a command of this nuanced area of law, specifically police use of force cases,” Fox said. “You’re prohibited from looking through the lens of 20/20 hindsight, which the judge did frequently today.”

As an example, Fox points to the judge’s reference that the three men were just out drinking; they weren’t gang members.

“We didn’t know that then,” Fox said. “We know that now.”

In another instance, the judge said Jimenez Lopez didn’t try to take Nail’s weapons when he pulled on the former officer’s vest. Fox acknowledges the judge’s assessment is accurate, but says Nail didn’t know at the time that Jimenez Lopez posed no threat.

Alison Berry Wilkinson, defense attorney for Mazariegos, said she doesn’t believe either of the former officers, “especially Daisy,” should be held to trial.

A civil attorney who has been closely watching the preliminary hearing, Anthony Label, represents Jimenez Lopez in a federal lawsuit filed against Mazariegos and Nail. Label said his client feels relieved by the judge’s decision and reassured that the legal system is moving forward toward justice.

“Judge Jordan saw through the defense’s smoke and mirror tactics,” Label said. “We are very pleased that the court agrees there’s evidence for assault with great bodily injury charges against both former officers in this case.”

Nail and Mazariegos have pleaded not guilty to all charges. If the defendants don’t waive their right to a speedy trial, it would start within 60 days of the arraignment, which is scheduled for Dec. 26 at 9am.

Nikki Silverstein
Nikki Silverstein is an award-winning journalist who has written for the Pacific Sun since 2005. She escaped Florida after college and now lives in Sausalito with her Chiweenie and an assortment of foster dogs. Send news tips to [email protected].

12 COMMENTS

  1. Excellent, thorough and unbiased, as always. Thnx for keeping this tragic tale alive and front and center for the public. Jerry Spolter

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    • Here you go again with your hatred and xenophobia (google it. It’s a thing, especially in your circles).
      Nowhere in any article ever written about this case does it disclose his legal status. Why do you assume he’s illegal? You have a filthy lense you see the world through Craig. I’d hate to be you.

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  2. If he were an illegal wouldn’t he been deported when he was arrested 9/25/05 , 1/11/07 or when he arrested again 8/2/22

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  3. “I’m incredulous,” Fox said. “We’re here on emotion.”
    No, we’re here on an open and shut case of police brutality and falsifying a police report.

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  4. It doesn’t matter if he’s “legal” or not. Nobody deserves to have the tar beaten out of them to the point where they can’t work for months. Not for drinking a beer outside. Disgraceful!

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  5. Does no one else see a problem with the female officer statement of saying she wanted to run their id’s for warrants? If they were drinking in public, cite them for that and leave. But she wanted to fish and the male officer just wanted to teach some dirty Latinos what it means to be a minority without any power. Well, guess they f’d around and found out and now they’ll both be going to prison for abusing their authority and power. Shame that the female officer didn’t stop her partner. She’d still be employed and would look really good. Instead she took the blue line route: cover up, lie, blame the victim.

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  6. Judge Mark A. Talamantes is a corrupt, lier, abusive man who procures his wife and family members to advocate for his camouflaged law firm to protect and assist with fraudulent US Asylum and steal our governmental and public funds. He uses people (associates) to get grants profit from it.

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