California is tough on DUIs. Everyone knows that a DUI can result in a suspended license, fines, jail time, and even a possible ignition interlock device. But for one man driving through Chico last month, a DUI arrest also included a brutal beating by police. To make matters worse for local law enforcement, the beating was captured on video by a bystander.
Police reportedly tried to pull over Sean Reardon for a broken tail light and expired registration. Instead of stopping, Reardon allegedly kept driving, and hit two cars before coming to a stop. The police then told Reardon to get out of the car, and lie on the ground, which he did. Then Reardon may have gotten back up, refusing to comply with police instructions, before police reportedly tackled him to the ground.
At about this time, a bystander started to record the event, which shows two police officers fighting with a man on the ground. One officer appears to be trying to restrain or hand cuff the man, while the other officer repeatedly beats him with a club. The short video has gone public, first released by Action News Now, later being picked up by international news agencies.
Reardon, 30 years old, has now filed a claim against the city, alleging the Chico officers beat him, with extreme violence and without provocation. He claims he was hog-tied and thrown into a police vehicle before being taken to the hospital. He was reportedly in the ICU for 4 days after suffering acute respiratory failure, and put on a respirator.
According to the police, this is not Reardon's first run in with the law. Butte County Chief Deputy DA said Reardon had a warrant at the time of the arrest, for failing to appear in court on a gun charge. The DA said that police used force to get Reardon to comply with their requests, after the he refused to show his hands and kept them near his waist. The DA also reported Reardon's blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to be 0.14 percent, nearly twice the legal limit. Reardon's blood also reportedly had traces of methamphetamine and cocaine.
Chief O'Brien, with the Chico Police Department, says the officers were justified in their use of force. Reardon now faces charges of a DUI with alcohol or drugs within 10 years of a prior DUI, hit and run, driving on a suspended license, and resisting a poice officer. He has pleaded not guilty to the charges.
It remains to be seen what will happen to Reardon, and whether he will win his case against the city. However, this incident helps demonstrate that if you believe the police are treating you unfairly during a DUI arrest, that is not the time to fight. You will have your chance to fight the charges against you in court. A DUI arrest does not have to mean a DUI conviction.
For more than 30 years, attorney Lynn Gorelick of the Gorelick Law Offices has specialized in defending people charged with driving under the influence in the East Bay. If you have been arrested for a DUI, or other criminal charges, there is still time to keep the conviction off your record. You do not have to plead guilty just because you were arrested. Contact your local East Bay criminal defense attorney, Lynn Gorelick. She knows the courts, she understands the law, and she will make sure you get the justice you deserve. Call for your free consultation today.