Minor motorcycle accident leads to civil rights, Fourth Amendment violation by Elk Grove Police lawsuit contends

December 11, 2018 |

UPDATED December 12  |

When the Elk Grove City Council convenes their closed session during their regular meeting tomorrow, one item of discussion will be a federal civil rights lawsuit following a minor motorcycle accident.

The case, Jared Hara and Stephanie Miura vs. The City of Elk Grove was filed in U.S. District Court in Sacramento on October 3, 2018, alleges that three officers of Elk Grove Police Department violated the civil rights of the two plaintiffs. The case stemmed from a minor motorcycle accident involving Miura on September 26, 2017. 

According to the complaint, the two plaintiffs were in a relationship at the time of the incident, and Hara was teaching Miura how to operate a motorcycle near his residence on Sutherland Way and Dunkerrin Way. Although both were licensed to operate a motorcycle, Miura was not experienced in the operation of the vehicle.

While operating at a low speed, Miura lost control of the motorcycle and attempted to jump off before crashing. After crashing, Hara aided Miura who sustained minor injuries.

After Miura left the scene to return to the residence to treat herself, Hara was in the process of recovering the motorcycle when Elk Grove Police officer Rene Olague arrived at the scene. Officer Olague, according to the complaint, "in an aggressive" manner, insisted on seeing Miura, who was inside the residence, and if she did not come out, he would enter citing exigent circumstances

Hara agreed to summon Miura, and as he entered the house realized he had been locked out. Instead, Hara opened the garage door, and as he entered the interior, closed the garage door. 

As the door was closing, Officer Olague ran into the garage, and yelled at Hara word to the effect "I'm not playing games with you." Hara told Olague that he could not come into the garage to which the officer "forcefully" detained Hara.

As this occurred, two other Elk Grove Police officials, Officer Rodjard Daguman and Sgt. Gabriel Ramos arrived at the residence. Ramos assisted Olague in handcuffing Hara and placed in the rear of a patrol vehicle.

As this was occurring, Ms. Miura heard the commotion and exited to the dwelling to see what was happening.  Miura was detained un-handcuffed and complied with instructions.

After the two plaintiffs were in custody, the officers entered the residence, without consent, according to the complaint. The search did not yield any evidence, and both plaintiffs were released without arrests.

Although the plaintiffs did not sustain significant injuries from their detention, the complaint asserts "Mr. Hara and Ms. Miura suffered substantial fear, upset, humiliation and emotional distress as the direct and proximate result of the Defendants' conduct as alleged above." 

The suit claims the actions of the three officers violated the plaintiffs' Fourth Amendment rights and they entered the residence without a warrant and probable cause. The complaint also asserts the officers committed battery against Hara, and both were unlawfully detained.

As relief, the plaintiffs are seeking unspecified damages. Representing the plaintiffs is Davis, California-based attorney Michael A. Schaps, who did not respond to a request seeking comment on the complaint.

The lawsuit noted that the plaintiffs filed a complaint with the Elk Grove Police Department, and on July 2, 2018, the "Department sustained Mr. Hara's allegation of misconduct. According to the Elk Grove Police Department, this means its investigation disclosed 'sufficient evidence to establish that the act occurred and that it constituted misconduct.'"  

Elk Grove city attorney Jonathan Hobbs did not respond to an inquiry seeking to identify if the city's legal staff or outside counsel would litigate the case. Hobbs also did not respond to a request to see if Elk Grove City Councilmember Stephanie Nguyen, whose spouse is a sworn officer with the Elk Grove Police Department, would have to recuse herself from deliberations on the matter.

As a matter of policy, the Elk Grove Police Department does not comment on litigation. Additionally, citing personnel policy, the police department did not disclose what disciplinary actions, if any, were imposed on the three officers.   

December 12 update - Out of their closed session, the Elk Grove City Council voted 5 - 0 to defend the case rather than settle. 


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Unknown said...

The City of Elk Grove already settled this case...

Unknown said...

The City of Elk Grove already settled this case...

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