(UDJ story by Justine Frederikson)
A Ukiah man found walking naked in traffic Thursday afternoon was taken into custody after being Tased three times and pepper sprayed, the Ukiah Police Department reported.
According to the UPD, an officer near the 1400 block of South State Street responded to the area when the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office was dispatched to a report of a naked man walking in traffic.
UPD Lt. Andy Phillips said that when the officer contacted the man, he quickly became “aggressive and took a fighting stance. A Taser was deployed, which was ineffective, and a second Taser was deployed, which was also ineffective.”
Phillips said a third Taser and pepper spray were used on the suspect before he was taken into custody. He was also placed in a “Wrap restraint,” which Phillips said immobilizes combative suspects.
Personnel from the Ukiah Valley Fire Authority also responded to the scene to render medical aid to the suspect before he was transported to Adventist Health Ukiah Valley for treatment prior to being booked into Mendocino County Jail.
Phillips said the suspect, identified as Gerardo Magdaleno, of Ukiah, no age provided, appeared to be under the influence of a stimulant such as methamphetamine, and that it is “very common for people under the influence of meth to get very hot and take their clothes off. And he was taken to the hospital to make sure he wasn’t suffering from meth psychosis.”
Magdaleno was arrested on suspicion of resisting arrest, possession of drug paraphernalia and violating his probation.
Phillips said one of the UPD officers arresting Magdaleno suffered an injury to his hand and knee, and he was treated and released at the hospital. Any injuries Magdaleno suffered were not specified.
At least one witness to the arrest took video of the arrest, which appears to show officers punching the suspect while he was lying on the ground after being Tased. When asked to address the video and whether it shows use of excessive force, the UPD said it would be issuing a statement.
(courtesy, the Ukiah Daily Journal)
From the Mendocino Voice (with videos): mendovoice.com/2021/04/ukiah-police-department-officers-beat-mentally-ill-man-gerardo-magdaleno/
Mark Scaramella Notes:
“His sister, Luna Magdaleno, 30 of Ukiah, said Magdaleno had recently run out of medication for his schizophrenia and had taken a dose of LSD that morning. His other sister, Veronica Diaz, 28, noted that her brother often turns to non-prescription drugs when he runs out of his prescribed meds.”
However this incident plays out, and there certainly does look like some “excessive force” used, the backstory must include the obvious question of how someone could “run out of medication” for a diagnosed mental health condition, which means he was known to the mental health authorities and known to be a problem when off his prescription meds.
Other questions include:
Why can’t blankets and such be used instead of tasers and punches?
What is taking so long for the crisis van to be up and running?
Why isn’t the Redwood Valley training facility, bought years ago specifically to train law enforcement on how to handle these situations, up and running by now?
The incident has echoes of the Marvin Noble case, a case which ultimately held the Mendocino County Mental Health department as primarily responsible for Marvin Noble’s death at the hands of the Ukiah Police Department.
UKIAH POLICE DEPARTMENT STATEMENT (Friday afternoon, April 2, 2021)
On Thursday, April 1, 2021, Ukiah Police Officers responded to a service call for an individual exhibiting erratic behavior in a public setting. We are aware of videos circulating online showing a partial view of the incident and a graphic portrayal of force when the suspect failed to be subdued after a series of hands-off police techniques. Use of force incidents like this are rare and there is an investigation underway regarding the incident’s escalation and whether Ukiah Police principals and protocols were followed. We understand the serious nature of this incident and the questions that have arisen regarding use of force policies, and will keep the public informed on the outcome of this investigation.
What we know at this time is that UPD officers responded to a call for service by Mendocino County Sheriff’s Office (MCSO) on April 1, 2021 at approximately 2:54 PM, regarding a naked male, who was running along the roadway in the 1400 block of S. State Street. It is common practice for UPD Officers to monitor radio traffic from MCSO, in the event that UPD Officers could assist. When these calls for service border UPD and MCSO’s jurisdictions, UPD Officers may be closer to the area of the call for service than an MCSO Deputy.
The UPD Officer responded to the area of 1450 S. State St., and observed a naked adult male, who was later identified as Gerardo Magdaleno, along the west edge of the roadway. The Officer exited his vehicle and contacted Magdaleno. Magdaleno failed to respond to simple verbal instructions, tensed and assumed an aggressive stance.
The Officer was concerned for the public’s safety, as there were numerous citizens, including children in the immediate area. The Officer requested additional law enforcement respond to assist, as Magdaleno was not complying and appeared to be under the influence of a stimulant.
In the subsequent minutes, additional Officers arrived on site to help subdue the suspect. Magdaleno continued to display aggressive behavior, and the responding Officers moved through a series of escalating response actions to detain him while protecting his safety and the safety of nearby bystanders.
The Officers issued numerous verbal instructions to Magdaleno and he continued to ignore those instructions. They then resorted to multiple taser deployments and multiple bursts of pepper spray. These hands-off measures were ineffective and Magdaleno continued to resist and repeatedly got back up to physically confront the Officers. Eventually Magdaleno was brought to the ground by several Officers but he continued to resist handcuffs and ignored verbal commands to stop resisting. The Officers then attempted to gain compliance by delivering numerous distraction strikes to the suspect’s head. This allowed the Officers a brief opportunity to place Magdaleno into handcuffs, and then the technique was ceased.
We understand the concern that is raised when physical strikes are used by Officers against a suspect. Ukiah PD officers are trained to evaluate risk and determine threats, pursue de-escalation techniques to avoid physical confrontation, deploy distance measures to secure suspect compliance, and then implement hands-on force if needed. We will be investigating this particular incident to evaluate what happened, whether the response techniques were deployed appropriately, and whether future incidents like this should be handled differently.
Based on Magdaleno’s continued physical resistance even after he was placed in handcuffs, his inability to follow verbal instructions, and the suspicion that he was experiencing a stimulant induced psychosis or excited delirium, Officers then placed Magdaleno into a WRAP. This is a restraint device designed for the safety of the subject as well as Officers that keeps the subject’s legs straight (limiting their ability to kick or walk), while allowing the subject to be placed into a seated position. This is an approved restraint device which allows Officers to keep the subject in a seated position, rather than lying on their stomach, which is not an optimal recovery position for a subject that is experiencing excited delirium.
Officers, Deputies and UVFA personnel began providing medical care for Magdaleno. This included removal of Taser darts and decontamination for the OC spray that was administered to Magdaleno. Magdaleno was transported via ambulance to AHUV for a fuller medical evaluation prior to incarceration. This is in alignment with UPD Policy, following a Taser application and use of physical force.
During the investigation, following the physical confrontation with Magdaleno, Officers located a pair of sweatpants that Magdaleno had been wearing just prior to the original call for service. Inside the pant’s pocket a glass pipe, commonly used for smoking methamphetamine, was located, a violation of 11364 HS – Possession of drug paraphernalia. Based on Magdaleno’s level of impairment from suspected methamphetamine use (intoxication), while in public and his apparent inability to care for himself, there was probable cause to believe he was in violation of 647(f) PC – Public intoxication. Following his medical evaluation, Magdaleno was cleared for incarceration and booked at the MCSO Jail for the above-mentioned violations. He is currently held at the MCSO Jail on $15,000.00 bail.
As with any Use of Force instances, this incident will be evaluated and investigated per UPD Policy. This will include review of body worn and vehicle camera videos, which were both used throughout this incident. The Use of Force Policy and all UPD Policies can be accessed and viewed via the UPD website. UPD is aware that there are several videos of the incident, not captured by law enforcement, in circulation online. It should be noted these videos may not have captured the incident in its entirety. We would encourage anyone wishing to provide video of the incident to contact LT. Phillips at 707-463-6254.
UPD would like to thank MCSO, CHP, UVFA and Med Star personnel for their assistance with this incident. As a reminder, this incident remains under investigation and as further details may become available and released. At the time of this press release, Magdaleno had not been processed at the MCSO Jail and the attached booking photo is from a prior incarceration.
Prepared by: UPD Operations Lieutenant Andy Phillips
PROFESSOR COSMOS COMMENTS:
The UPD statement just came out and they say an investigation is underway. They note that the last flurry of head blows was necessary to get him handcuffed. In one video, it seemed to me that these last blows were just about coincident with his arms being pulled behind him. More video views might resolve that, but if you look at the beginning, it is the agitating, escalating force in the first responding officer that may be off-base and requiring training (depending on the naked guy’s behavior before start of that one video). The guy arrested was at that stage only waving his hands to swipe away incoming pepper spray, the officer all-the-while cursing and yelling.