UKIAH, 8/19/22 — Mendocino County prosecutors dropped all charges this morning against a man who was permanently disfigured by officers of the Ukiah Police Department (UPD) during a violent arrest last spring. Arturo Valdes was suspected of misdemeanor DUI, but he suffered visible facial fractures during his arrest in the front yard of his Ukiah home.
“The People are making a motion to dismiss the case in the interest of justice,” Deputy District Attorney Heidi Larson said on the record, and hearing no objections, Judge Carly Dolan granted the motion.
According to defense attorney Richard Middlebrook, the prosecution fell apart after Sgt. Ron Donohue and Officer Eric Rodello exercised their Fifth Amendment rights to avoid self-incrimination during the preliminary hearing.
“Donohue did it from the stand, and Rodello indicated in court from counsel table he planned to do the same,” Middlebrook confirmed in a text message before this morning’s court hearing. (Court transcripts from May 17, 2022, confirm that Donohue balked when asked how many times he punched Valdes in the head, and declined to testify further after he was repeatedly advised of his Fifth Amendment rights, but stopped short of saying “I plead the Fifth.”)
Middlebrook says Valdes was involved in a minor collision March 28, 2021. Valdes provided his driver’s license and insurance information to the other driver and went home — but did not wait for police to arrive due to long response times on non-emergency calls. Roughly 45 minutes later, however, officers were investigating the case as a hit-and-run.
Valdes was charged with felony resisting arrest, felony child cruelty and misdemeanor DUI. None of those charges held up. Middlebrook has previously alleged the officers made “fraudulent statements” about his client’s conduct leading up to the arrest and violated his Fourth Amendment rights under the U.S. Constitution. A federal civil rights suit against the city is still proceeding.
“Body camera footage supports the arrest, and a criminal case is currently pending,” acting UPD Chief Cedric Crook said in an email July 7, 2022, when The Voice filed a request for the arrest reports and video evidence associated with Valdes’ case under the California Public Records Act. At the time, however, those documents were exempt from disclosure due to the ongoing prosecution. With all charges dismissed in the interest of justice, however, The Voice has reached out to city staff to establish a timeline for disclosure and is awaiting a response.
The Voice filed requests for records related to use of force or misconduct under S.B. 1421 involving Rodello, Donohue or Officer Daniel Parker — who was also named as a defendant in Valdes vs. City of Ukiah. City staff have stated that as of July, no such records pertaining to those officers were disclosable under the California Public Records Act.
Is DA Dave Easter going to put these officer’s on the Brady List and take away their gun rights like he did to the female probation officer who was the victim of DV by a UPD Officer? We’ll be waiting and watching his actions to see if he’s a member of the “Good Ole Boy’s Club” of Mendocino County.
Chief Crook and DA Eyster have conflicting opinions of what the facts are. I guess Chief Crook’s propensity for honesty and integrity is about to be put to the test on public display. Is Eyster investigating these officers for these crimes against our citizen? Has he requested another agency investigate these crimes by UPD officers? Have they been arrested and charged? Why not?
After balking at answering multiple times, has reported, did Donahue ultimately state on the record that he was asserting his fifth amendment right to refuse to testify on the grounds that it may incriminate him? Is there a reason why he was reluctant to state this when first asked?
After balking at answering multiple times, as reported, did Donahue ultimately state on the record that he was asserting his fifth amendment right to refuse to testify on the grounds that it may incriminate him? Is there a reason why he was reluctant to state this when first asked?
PUSSIES! Sue the fuck out of them corrupt UPD. Put the video out so the community could see the truth..
More corruption and bullshit from Ukiah P.D. imagine that? Beat a guy’s face in and plead the 5th. Cowards.
Dropped all charges… against a guy who followed the law by stopping at a non-injury accident to exchange information, and then leaving as allowed by law. These “officers” had no probable cause of a crime to approach the man at his home 45 minutes after the fact, to accuse him of leaving the scene of an accident… leading to the assault and then the stacking of false charges.
Our DA refused to answer phone calls, office visits, and a written letter, related to my experiences with these corrupted police officers, Eric Rodello and Ron Donohue. I had BRADY concerns about these folks and their lack of honesty; many examples of this were videotaped. These officers should not be testifying in court BECAUSE they have issues with being honest… as the State and County have now admitted to.
How long must Ukiah suffer the threat that these two idiots will be back on the street… executing their version of “justice”?
Yet another drunk driver terrorizing Ukiah streets, only this one has the narcissism to pretend he’s a victim and sue the city. The guy left the scene because he was DUI. He has a criminal traffic history auto show he doesn’t respect other people’s lives or the law. I don’t care how many times he was punched in the face. His driving puts MY life at risk and he should have his license suspended permanently.