An officer with the San Jose Police Department has been charged after video showed him kicking a woman in the stomach and dragging her on the ground while she was handcuffed, officials said Tuesday. Officer Matthew Rodriguez was charged with unlawful assault and battery under the color of authority in connection with the July incident.
The incident began at approximately 5:45 p.m. in a McDonald's parking lot on July 22, when officers located a vehicle that was wanted for evading police on two occasions, the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office said in a statement. The person driving the car when it evaded police was a male — but a 39-year-old woman was driving when officers encountered the car that afternoon.
The woman complied when Rodriguez ordered her to get on the ground, the office said. Rodriguez then said "I'm going to kick you in the (expletive) face" and kicked her in the stomach, according to both the office and to a DoorDash worker's video of the interaction obtained by CBS San Francisco.
Rodriguez then dragged the woman for several feet by her handcuffs, the office said. Rodriguez said that the woman did not comply with his commands — but the video evidence contradicted that claim, according to the office. The woman suffered "contusions and lacerations to her face, stomach, and legs."
She was later booked into Santa Clara County Jail for driving on a suspended license, possession of paraphernalia, and resisting arrest, the office said. After reviewing her case, the district attorney declined to file charges against her.
Rodriguez was placed on administrative leave in the days following the incident.
"If anyone wanted a prime example of (the) use of excessive force by a police officer, this incident is one," LaDoris Cordell, a retired judge and a former San Jose Independent Police Auditor who has reviewed police use of force cases for the city, told CBS San Francisco in July.
"She is kneeling on the ground, there is no resistance," she said. "The officer then kicks her in the abdomen. He grabs her and drags her across the asphalt so her face is dragging on the ground to locate her away from the car. Again, another excessive use of force."
The office said Rodriguez would self-surrender on the warrant. If convicted, the 11-year veteran of the force faces up to one year in jail.
The San Jose Police Department has faced a number of recent controversies, according to CBS San Francisco, including excessive force allegations from Black Lives Matter protests in June and reports of a secret Facebook group where officers made racist posts.