Reporter’s note: At the conclusion of this article, the three investigative reports into three San Rafael officers involved in the use of force incident are provided in their entirety. The videos of the incident are also unedited and contain violence and profanity.
After almost six months of delays, the City of San Rafael released the investigative reports into the police beating of a local gardener during questioning about an open container of beer.
The three reports focus on a July 27, 2022, incident, when two then-officers, Daisy Mazariegos and Brandon Nail, used physical force against a man in the Canal area. Corporal Oscar O’Con was also investigated for failing to follow department policies during his supervision of the incident.
Mazariegos, Nail and O’Con were found to have violated some department policies. However, many of the findings in the reports appear to be in direct conflict with each other.
For example, the reports state that Mazariegos and Nail did not use excessive force against Julio Jimenez Lopez, yet it is also concluded that they brought discredit to the San Rafael Police Department.
“The investigative report soft sells what happened,” said Charles Dresow, an attorney for Jimenez Lopez. “If Mazariegos and Nail didn’t use excessive force, how did they bring discredit to the police department?”
Paul Henry, a 27-year veteran of the Santa Rosa Police Department who is now a consultant, conducted the internal investigation and issued the report, despite public concern that a former officer may have biases toward law enforcement.
Mazariegos and Nail failed to consider alternative tactics to using force and failed to employ de-escalation techniques, according to the report. Henry also states that use of force could have been avoided and Mazariegos and Nail handled the incident poorly.
“Through Nail’s and Mazariegos’s own misconduct, they created the need for use of force,” Dresow said. “Henry says the use of force was not excessive, but no force should have been used in the first place.”
While Henry doesn’t believe excessive force was used, the incident left Jimenez Lopez with a broken nose, concussion and a torn labrum in his shoulder that required surgery.
The reports place the blame for the then-officers’ decision to use force squarely on Jimenez Lopez for “resisting commands” to sit down. Jimenez Lopez stood up to comply with another command to produce his identification.
Adamant that Jimenez Lopez did not resist, Dresow said one only needs to look at the videos from the police body-worn cameras that captured the incident. Dresow also maintains that the commands were not lawful orders because the police did not have cause to detain his client for the minor infraction of an open container of beer.
“The City of San Rafael, including the city attorney, Rob Epstein, should be ashamed at the report that they have commissioned to justify the abuse of my client,” Dresow said.
The reports seem to raise as many questions as they answer. Some of these issues may soon be resolved in a court of law. Mazariegos and Nail, who are no longer employed by the San Rafael Police Department, are each facing two felony charges for assault under color of authority and making false statements in a crime report. Their next court date is Oct. 2.