UKIAH, 7/8/22 — A Ukiah man injured during a violent arrest last spring is suing the Ukiah Police Department in federal court for allegedly violating his constitutional rights and assault under color of law. Arturo Valdes was booked into the Mendocino County Jail with visible facial fractures on March 28, 2021 on suspicion of DUI — but his attorney says Valdes was at home with his family at the time of his arrest.
On the day of the incident defendant took his family out for dinner, where he was involved in a fender bender in the parking lot, according to defense attorney Richard Middlebrook. There were reportedly no injuries and no property damage. Valdes provided his information to the other driver as required by law — but he declined to remain on scene to await the arrival of traffic investigators, which was expected to take several hours due to the non-emergency status of the call. Roughly 45 minutes later, officers were at the address Valdes provided to the other driver, investigating a hit and run.
Mendocino County Superior Court records show that on April 20, 2021, Valdes was charged with driving under the influence with prior DUI convictions, resisting arrest, and child cruelty for transporting his children. He pleaded not guilty. His case is currently scheduled for a preliminary hearing on Aug. 19, 2022.
May 27, 2022, Middlebrook filed a federal complaint accusing UPD Sgt. Ron Donohue, Officer Eric Rodello, and Officer Daniel Parker of violating his client’s 4th Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution.
“They lied about his probation status in order to coax him into doing things he didn’t want to do,” Middlebrook said in an interview Thursday. “They also told him he didn’t have the right to a lawyer.”
Middlebrook alleges that officers told Valdes he was not under arrest, then grievously assaulted the man when he attempted to walk back into his home. He also alleges officers falsely arrested Eizabeth Valdes, Arturo’s wife, then placed her in a squad car for 40 minutes with the windows rolled up and the engine turned off in order to “sweat her out.” Temperatures in Ukiah reached 80 degrees that day, according to www.AccuWeather.com.
“They wrote the report making absolutely fraudulent statements about my client’s attack on them. My client has Ring cameras all over the front of his house, and we have the real footage,” Middlebrook said.
The Mendocino Voice has filed a request for Valdes’ arrest record under the California Public Records Act, but those documents will likely be withheld until the criminal case against him is resolved. Additional requests have been filed for any records of misconduct involving Donohue, Rodello or Parker that might be available under Senate Bill 1421. This story may be updated when those responses become available.
Arturo Valdes vs. City of Ukiah, et al, is the second federal lawsuit accusing UPD of civil rights violations and assault under color of law since April 2021, when 25-year-old Gerardo Magdaleno was violently arrested for walking around naked on South State Street during the midst of an apparent mental health crisis. UPD initially declined to identify the officers involved, but court records eventually named Lt. Andrew Phillips, Officer Saul Perez, Officer Jordan Miller, and Officer Alex Cowan in Magdaleno vs. City of Ukiah — which settled for $211,000 in March.
Miller was hired in Jan. 2021, and is one of UPD’s newest employees. At the time of Magdaleno’s arrest, Miller was still in his 12-month probationary period, according to UPD Policy 1002.4. The city’s website says Miller is still working for UPD, despite the six-figure settlement attached to one of his very first calls for service in Ukiah. Miller became a full-time, permanent employee in Jan. 2022, which comes with a higher degree of job security.
Of the 25 cops currently listed on UPD’s roster, including command staff, seven have been accused of participating in violent misconduct between April 2021 and May 2022. Former Chief Noble Waidelich and former Sgt. Kevin Murray were both fired over allegations of criminal activity, but if lawsuits against them are factored in, nine of 27 recent UPD officers faced misconduct allegations over an 18-month period. That’s one third of the department.
City Manager Sage Sangiacomo did not respond to an email requesting comment on the impacts to taxpayers Thursday morning, or the city’s plans for minimizing liability stemming from allegations of police misconduct in the future. Court documents filed on Tuesday, however, indicate that attorneys representing the city have categorically denied all allegations against UPD personnel. Those attorneys include Dale Allen, Kevin Allen and John Laughlin at Allen, Glaessner, Hazelwood & Werth, LLP.
Corruption! UPD! Again taxpayers to pay out another lawsuit for these pussy cops. UKIAH wake up! Sage needs to go. UPD should be taken over by the sheriff office. Valdes family take these mother fuckers to the cleaners..
Sheriff’s office is no better
There are two sides to every story. ALWAYS.
Nice work, Sergeant Donohue, Eric Rodello and Daniel Parker.
While this happened 4-months prior to my interactions with this “crew”, I did predict recently that Ukiah would see these guys again. We are seeing them again.
In my opinion, after experiencing the menacing from some of these individuals, the Ukiah Police operate as any common street gang would.
Citizens need to see this and demand better from their City Council. Only they can fire the City Manager who has overseen so many Ukiah Police scandals, that the payoffs for only the recent beatings exceed $1.5 million dollars and rising.
The City Council should demand the resignation of the City Manager, Sage Sangiacomo. We need a City Manager, for this town of 16K citizens, who can do the job for reasonable pay, and be effective at it… including the management of the city police department.
Sage Sangiacomo is the problem… not the solution. He is just the guy that approves the post-abuse payoffs, and silences with nondisclosure agreements and “it’s a Personnel issue” comments to avoid responsibility.
If I were Sage, I would have already resigned. I have honor. Honor matters.
If anyone here knows or have ever met the Valdes family, you would know that their story does NOT hold any water. Full of holes and contridictions at every turn.
It is a small town. Most people know Rodello and Donohue. Mention either name to those living on the street… and see the reaction you get. I have done this… and the names are well-known. The homeless are afraid of Rodello, so I am told.
I have posted police bodycam footage of Rodello attempting to manufacture a fake claim, to muscle me from an area, and abate a series of complaints. You can watch him use this fake claim… and moments later, tell others that the claim is nonsense.
A few months later, you can watch 3 Ukiah Police Officers, led by Rodello and Donohue, address me again to ticket me for an offense that they refused to ticket others for; Ukiah Code 4153. Thye brought 3 officers to a dogshit ticket… and spent one manhour trying to evoke an aggressive response from either me or the Rottweiler I walk, so that they could take the actions that they really wanted to take.
These are not innocent police, just doing their jobs. These are people playing loose and free with your personal liberties, in gang fashion. Oh. By the way… there is video of the incident, from RING cameras. Will those hold water? I think the video will show the truth.
Had I not invested in a bodycamera for myself, I would have likely been a victim of these folks.
Also, there was a million dollar-plus successful civil lawsuit claiming that a person had been beaten by law enforcement who illegally entered their home. However, there were no charges against the defendants otherwise in a court of law. In fact it seems they are still serving on the force. Many, many unanswered questions involving our law enforcement/legal system. I do not expect answers, even though not getting them points to troubling inconsistencies. This is a dangerous (and expensive) situation for the citizens of this city and county.
Anne you must be Donahues wife? Valdes family apparently your full of shit? Prove these mother fuckers wrong show the tape.