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Judge Rules for San Jose Officers in Civil Rights Case

June 03, 2014  | 

In a resounding victory for San Jose police, a judge has ruled that every action officers took during a controversial 2011 traffic stop was justified -- stopping a black BMW for playing loud music, arresting the passenger who mouthed off and initially refused to put his hands on the dashboard and zapping him with a stun gun.

The ruling Friday by Judge Beth McGowen comes after Air Force veteran Michael Fujikawa sued the city, claiming his only violation during the downtown traffic stop was of an unwritten rule barring "contempt of cop," the San Jose Mercury reports. His arrest shortly before the bars closed, Fujikawa contended during a six-day trial in Santa Clara County Superior Court, was merely payback for initially refusing to put his hands on the dashboard and mouthing off to Officer Steven Payne Jr.

Fujikawa spent five days in jail on what he claimed were inflated charges, including resisting arrest, battery and attempting to disarm an officer. Prosecutors immediately dropped the disarming allegation and, 11 months later, just before Fujikawa was to stand trial, dismissed the rest of the case.

But in the civil case against police, the judge strongly disagreed with Fujikawa's innocuous description of the incident and his claim that his civil rights were violated, calling his conduct "belligerent." Police had legitimate grounds to believe he was interfering with their investigation of the driver for playing loud music, she ruled, adding that Fujikawa admitted he was drunk and even apologized for his behavior afterward. 

Tags: Lawsuits, San Jose PD


Comments (4)

Displaying 1 - 4 of 4

Jimbo @ 6/4/2014 7:56 AM

Sounds like the prosecutor played politics with the criminal case and the judge in the civil case looked at the actual facts. It sounds like the officers were vindicated.

Jack Betz @ 6/4/2014 2:34 PM

He was not arrested for contempt of cop. He was arrested for public disorder crimes. Contempt of cop is just icing on the cake and a reward for a job well done. ANd as a vetern he should be aware of the concept of failure to abey a lawful order.

KevCopAz @ 6/4/2014 7:52 PM

Thank you Judge for using OBVIOUS common sense and a great ruling!. I agree that the Prosecutor should be blamed for dropping the charges purely for political reasons. Perhaps re-filing is in order? People have to realize that what they think is "contempt of cop' is most often being uncooperative with police as required by law and submitting to the lawful authority, otherwise RESISTING arrest, a CRIME!. If you disagree with an arrest go to court and fight the arrest and sue, NEVER resist or assault an officer. There is never any excuse for that.

sjm @ 7/29/2014 6:17 PM

San Jose cops violate the rights of citizens routinely. They randomly stop and search, arrest then make up probably cause, get physical for no reason, lie about their authority. Of course, they conveniently say its was a "consentual contact" when nothing else can be used to get away with their fishing expeditions. They issue tickets under statutes which were clearly not violated, just to cover their random stop and search activities. They act like Barney Fife in the Andy of Mayberry episode when he is put in charge and arrests practically the entire town for minor offenses. Some of them are model officers, but most are not. The prosecutors have been prosecuted for withholding evidence.Some of the Judges, Civil and Criminal don't care about the truth, they judge strictly on first impression or personalities of the parties involved. I was stopped over 90 times, questioned, searched, tested, cuffed and let go. White is right, if your brown or black, be careful, they profile

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