Federal Judge Orders Release of Cop's Employment Record in Excessive Force Video
United States Magistrate Judge Allison Claire has given the city of Vallejo 14 days to release the employment records and documents containing information about former-Vallejo police officer Spencer Muniz-Bottomley, who has been sued for using excessive force on Carl Edwards during an arrest caught on video.
Edwards suffered head trauma, required stitches over his right eye brow, cuts to his face, back, head, arms, a broken nose and a black eye after Vallejo police officers tackled him as he worked outside of his woodwork shop on July 30, 2017.
The city of Vallejo has previously attempted to block the release of records, which include the hiring of Muniz-Bottomley, promotions he received while with the Vallejo Police Department and any investigations the department launched into his background or fitness to work as a law enforcement officer.
The city of Vallejo argued in court that the information sought by Edwards' attorneys violated Muniz-Bottomley's privacy, since it included information about his high school grades, finances, marital status and interviews with neighbors.
However, Judge Claire disagreed, ruling the records "are particularly relevant to plaintiff’s claims against the city, as they could lead to discovery of information regarding the city’s pre-hire knowledge of (Muniz-)Bottomley’s fitness to serve."
Muniz-Bottomley has worked for the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office since leaving the Vallejo Police Department in 2018.
Claire also granted parts of Edwards' motion for the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office to turn over Muniz-Bottomley's application for employment as well as any subsequent or prior complaints against the officer.
The judge refused to order the release of any personal history, background investigation or questionnaires the sheriff's office may have related the hiring of Muniz-Bottomley.
She also ruled the Vallejo Police Department was not required to release documents given to the sheriff's officer related to Muniz-Bottomley.
Lastly, the judge also blocked a request by Edwards' lawyers to photograph tattoos on the officer's arms.
Edwards' lawsuit claims the tattoos show the officers involved are in a "gang" which operates within the department.
"Tattoo commonality among officers within California police departments has been linked to membership in an organized crime association or gang involving officers who collectively engage in highly aggressive police tactics," the lawsuit claims.
All of the records released pertaining to Muniz-Bottomley will remain under a protective order away from public view, according to Mercury News.
It all started that day at around 4 p.m. when Edwards was approached by Muniz-Bottomley.
Officers were responding to a call about a suspect who allegedly shot at kids in the neighborhood with a sling-shot, according to the lawsuit.
Body cam video begins with officer Bottomley driving in his police vehicle.
He gets out and gestures for Edwards to come towards him as he continues walking towards Edwards, who is standing near the fence, working on it.
For the first 30-seconds, there is no sound on Muniz-Bottomley's body camera.
"Put your hands on your head,bro," he tells Edwards.
"What the fuck?" he says, before grabbing him.
Edwards replies with his own expletives.
Muniz-Bottomley's camera is partially covered up during the beating, which he later refers to a supervisor as a "struggle" saying he had to "wrestle" with Edwards.
Edwards adamantly denies Bottomley's version.
But when his body camera is not obscured, it shows the officers beating and manhandling Edwards.
"Why are you guys doing this?" he asks as three officers forcibly bend his left arm over his neck as Edwards is on his back.
One officer has Edwards in a chokehold from the rear.
"Give us your hand," one officer says, obviously attempting to cover what appears to be an intentional beating.
At this point, blood begins pouring from Edward's face as he continues attempting to comply with the officers confusing demands.
"If you have to break it, break it," one officer says, referring to Edward's arm.
Edwards is not actually resisting.
"I didn't do anything to you guys," he pleads with the officers, as they finally get around to placing his arm behind his back and cuff him.
Edwards continues to say he hadn't done anything wrong as a pool of blood forms nearby.
Officer Muniz-Bottomley was also the same officer sued in a 2017 lawsuit filed against the city of Vallejo stemming from a March 2017 excessive force incident.
Video of that incident is included below.
In that case, which we reported about last month, the city dished out $75,000 after cell phone video captured Muniz-Bottomley punching Dejuan Hall and hitting him with a flashlight.
On March 10, 2017, officer Muniz-Bottomley responded to a call regarding a customer at a gas station, later identified as Hall, behaving erratically.
Hall fled after police confronted him.
Muniz-Bottomley chases then tackles him and begins beating him as witnesses shout at him in anger.
Currently, Muniz-Bottomley remains employed with the Sonoma County Sheriff's Office.
Watch video from Hall's arrest and read our report from last month about that incident below.