Crime - Sacto 911

‘What I saw ... was excessive.’ Witnesses describe alleged beating of DUI suspect by Rocklin cop

The Placer County District Attorney’s Office filed felony charges Wednesday against a Rocklin Police Department officer accused of using excessive force on a DUI suspect by beating him with his baton.

Brad Alford, 41, a patrol officer who has worked for the department for 15 years, was arrested Tuesday in connection with an incident that occurred in the parking lot of a Rocklin apartment complex at 6 a.m. Sunday. He has been charged with filing a false police report, assault with the use of a deadly weapon and assault by a police officer, both with an enhancement of causing great bodily injury.

Alford’s arrest stemmed from his early morning encounter with Emelio Perez-Chavez, 22. Witnesses told The Bee that Perez-Chavez – a repeat DUI offender – had pulled into his parking spot in the Hidden Grove apartments, with officers in pursuit.

Perez-Chavez has a record in Sacramento that includes pleading no contest to driving under the influence and obstructing an officer in the course of his duties, according to Sacramento Superior Court records. This year, he pleaded no contest to a reckless driving charge. In Placer County, he was charged in February with giving false identification to a peace officer.

His ex-girlfriend, Yesenia Ortiz, said he was on his way home from Thunder Valley casino on Sunday morning.

After his alleged beating at the hands of Alford, Perez-Chavez was booked in the Placer County jail on multiple counts, including driving under the influence, evading a police officer, resisting arrest, giving false identification to an officer and failing to appear for a work-release program.

Two days later, after other officers came forward with concerns about the alleged beating, Alford also was arrested and booked into Placer County jail. He was released later that night after posting bail, which had been set at $100,000, according to Placer County sheriff’s spokeswoman Dena Irwin.

At a Tuesday night news conference, Rocklin police Chief Chad Butler said video of the incident appears to show that Alford used excessive force. “There’s no excusable reason for unethical or illegal conduct,” he said. “This single incident does not define members of the Rocklin Police Department.”

Two people who witnessed the incident Sunday morning said at least three officers, one woman and two men, ordered Perez-Chavez to get out of his car, but he didn’t exit for at least a couple of minutes. Esther Hernandez, 22, lives in an apartment directly facing the parking spot where he was stopped. She said she awoke to the sound of officers yelling, “Get out of the car or we’ll shoot.”

Hernandez and her fiance, Edward Vega, 36, said Perez-Chavez then got out of the car with his hands up and dropped to his knees. He did not, however, go down to his stomach as officers ordered. At that point, Vega said, a male officer hit him at least three times, possibly more.

“He was crying, screaming and crying,” Hernandez said.

Vega, a private security guard, said the officer continued to hit Perez-Chavez even after he was lying on the ground on his stomach.

“What I saw, what my eyes saw, was excessive, and I wouldn’t act that way,” Vega said. “Wearing a badge is a privilege.”

Ortiz, who has spoken to Perez-Chavez since his arrest, said he has a broken wrist and fractured arm and may have a leg injury. She said he was X-rayed shortly after his arrest and has repeatedly asked for medical care, but has not received it.

“He sounds really bad. Emotionally he’s really upset. He called me crying and saying he was in pain,” said Ortiz. “They are not giving him the right medical. They are not trying to let him see a doctor. I don’t know why.”

Rocklin Police Department spokesman Lt. Scott Horrillo said Perez-Chavez was not cooperating with the officer who was initially trying to arrest him, and Alford and another officer came to help.

The department did not provide more details about the assault, other than to say Alford used his baton in a way that appeared excessive. The other officers at the scene were not identified. Horrillo said there was both body camera and dashboard camera footage of the incident, but that it would not be released because it is being used in the investigation.

Public records show Alford is from Folsom. A civil case was filed against him and the city of Rocklin in October 2015 after he struck a woman with his personal car in March of that year, said James Lewis, a Sacramento attorney who represented the woman’s daughter in the case. Lewis said the woman, Nicole Bowen, 43, was crossing the street when she was hit and later died.

Bowen was not on the sidewalk when Alford hit her with his car at about 1:30 p.m., Lewis said. Alford was on his way home after working a late-night patrol shift.

“We felt that Mr. Alford, his ability to operate his car, was compromised because he was a graveyard worker,” Lewis said. “We thought (Rocklin was) responsible because they were putting sleep-deprived officers, their own officers, on the road.”

Lewis said the family eventually dropped the claim against the city and chose to settle the case against Alford. Lewis described a remorseful and emotional Alford during a deposition in Lewis’ office months after the crash.

Alford’s arraignment is scheduled for Nov. 13 at the Placer Superior Court. Alford will remain on paid administrative leave until the Rocklin Police Department completes an independent investigation, Horrillo said.

Nashelly Chavez: 916-321-1188, @nashellytweets