San Leandro police destroy evidence after tasing disabled man in 'Naruto' costume
A disabled San Leandro man who was stunned with a Taser and beaten with batons by police when he was dressed as the anime character, Naruto, is now accusing an officer of destroying critical evidence of what happened to him.
Officer Ismael Navarro and the city of San Leandro "willfully destroyed video evidence, without credible explanation, along with records of Navarro's Taser trigger activations and entire use-of-force review file without any explanation at all," according to lawyers for Sorrell Shiflett, 37, who fell on his head and required three shoulder surgeries stemming from the violent arrest.
And in doing so, Shiflett's lawyers claim, the city and police department "crippled" their client's ability to prosecute his excessive force claims.
"I've never seen anything this egregious," civil rights attorney Adante Pointer said on Wednesday. "I could see one piece of evidence gone, but three?"
His mother, Kelley Davenport, told KTVU that she finds it incredulous that her son was so severely injured and there is no record of it. He had been hit on the head and his arm was broken. He had also suffered two strokes.
"I was completely outraged," she said. "I was the most upset that they didn't listen to his voice. He's disabled and anybody could tell. It's obvious."
San Leandro police Lt. Enguang Teng emailed KTVU saying the department typically does not provide comments regarding ongoing litigation or settled claims, which are laid out in a civil lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court.
But in court filings, the city's attorneys argued that there is no evidence that any Taser log existed – and therefore could not be destroyed. The city's lawyers also maintained that there is also no evidence of any intentional decision to delete any evidence.
City attorney Patrick Moriarty said San Leandro police saved the body camera video for one year, and then it was automatically purged, because that was the policy back then.
"There is zero evidence of bad faith or intent to deprive use of the evidence," Moriarty wrote.