Mom sues police for retaliatory beating in front of her kids during ‘bogus’ traffic stop
A California mom is suing local police for “egregious police brutality.” She says officers pulled her over for a “bogus” traffic violation and beat her in front of her two young kids in immediate retaliation for complaining about a cop’s behavior.
Hahn’s interaction with Carlsbad police began when she came across a car with its doors wide open and the alarm blaring. Officer Kenyatte Valentine was standing next to the car, “doing nothing,” the lawsuit said.
“What’s going on here?” she asked. “Is this your car?” he replied. “No, sir,” she said. Valentine then said: “Mind your f****** business.”
Hahn, the daughter of a reserve police officer, decided to call the non-emergency police hotline to report the officer’s behavior “since she felt harassed and intimidated” and that “Valentine appeared mentally unstable.”
She then got back into the car with her 11-year-old and 7-year-old children. Valentine followed her and “immediately pulled her over on the pretextual grounds” that she had a seatbelt violation. The lawsuit notes as an aside that Hahn was “not cited for any purpose.”
Valentine asked Hahn to get out of the car, and “began attacking her in front of her children” in the back seat. “While she was being beaten and pummeled, Ms. Hahn was crying out for help.”
Shortly after, another Carlsbad patrol car arrived “at a high and reckless rate of speed, traveling in reverse.”
"The next thing I know, I’m on the ground and he’s attacking me and then the other officer comes and I’m thinking he’s going to help me and he ratcheted it up," Hahn told KFMB.
Rather than help Hahn ‒ who was being straddled by Valentine ‒ Officer Jody Knisley got out his car and joined the attack, “punching Ms. Hahn with a closed fist to the face until she was limp on the floor” and her “clothes were almost ripped off,” the complaint read. She was restrained by a knee to her head and neck.
Hahn was brought to a hospital, where she was diagnosed with head and brain bruises and a concussion. She now suffers permanent memory loss and brain trauma as well as other physical and emotional injuries from the beating, the lawsuit claims.
She told KCBS that the memory still haunts her.
“I can feel hands on me. It’s the weirdest feeling,” she said.
Hahn was charged with felony charges of resisting arrest and battery on a peace officer with injury. Her lawsuit claims the officers “fabricated police reports” to “cover up their malicious and wanton conduct.”
The charges were dropped at the end of July, two years after the incident occurred, thanks to footage captured by bystanders.
"They did not know there was a video," Hahn’s attorney, Mark J. Geragos, told KNBC. "I allowed at least one of the cops to testify to tell his story which we will charitably call lying, though some would call perjury."
"Later on, we showed the video to the district attorney, who promptly said, 'Your honor, we move to dismiss’."
Now, because the Carlsbad officers “are apparently incapable of recognizing their videotaped misconduct,” Hahn and her husband are suing the City of Carlsbad; Valentine; Kisley; Corporal Rick Galanos; Officer Steve Seapker, who was fired in January 2014 for an unrelated incident, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune; and 50 unnamed officers.
They are claiming that the cops retaliated against Hahn for reporting Valentine’s bad behavior, and that the assault was a “systematic” practice of “unlawful excessive force” by the department.
“Specifically, the video depicts one Police Officer standing in a ‘guard position’ – as if in formation – to block off the public and attempt to conceal the ‘beating’ of Ms. Hahn,” the lawsuit said. “The assault on Ms. Hahn does not appear random and isolated among the Carlsbad Police Department as the assaulters are carrying out the assault in a manner that utilizes official formations and positions to conceal the beating.”
Geragos is also asking for the couple’s two children to be added to the lawsuit for claims relating to “negligent infliction of emotional distress” after witnessing police officers attack their mother.
Their son still talks about watching the assault.
“The only thing that he’ll talk to me about is, ‘I couldn’t protect you, Mom. I could’ve. I could’ve got him off you. I could have helped you’,” Hahn told KCBS.