New body cam video shows SJPD officer using patrol car to ram bicyclist

Recently released body camera video showing a San Jose police officer using his patrol vehicle as a battering ram is raising new questions.
Officer David Lezama’s body cam shows him making a fast-paced u-turn near Oak Hill Cemetery in San Jose. He was trying to stop cyclist Gabriel Gonzales, who was riding without a light on his bicycle. Seconds later, Lezama uses his patrol vehicle to ram Gonzales, sending the 26-year-old flying into a chain-link fence.
“That’s (expletive) up man. C’mon bro. I’m out here all alone,” Gonzales says to the officer as he struggles to his feet, pinned between the front of the patrol vehicle and the fence. Gonzales' attorney, Robert Powell said, “Stopping a man for the crime of not having a light on your bicycle with a 2,000-pound vehicle, yeah to me is beyond gross negligence.”
Days after the December 9, 2019 incident, Gonzales, nursing wounds to his knee and head, explained to KTVU that he was wearing earbuds during the encounter. He said he didn’t hear Lezama’s initial orders and feared for his life due to the officer’s anger and aggression.
“Two seconds before I got hit by the cop car, I thought I was gonna die,” he said at the time.
Witnesses seen and heard on the officer’s body camera video backed Gonzales’ claim and said the officer sped into a u-turn, then plowed into the cyclist.
Attorney Robert Powell is suing Officer Lezama personally because he believes the officer deprived his client of his civil rights. He said qualified immunity which routinely shields law officers from suits, shouldn’t apply.
“The problem is, it’s being used to basically let officers get off for egregious acts,” said Powell. Added Greg Woods, a professor in San Jose State University’s Department of Justice Studies, “How often do we think it might be reasonable to pull somebody over on a bicycle by ramming their car into them.”
Woods said all factors facing the officers at the time must be considered.
“This cries out for oversight by an entity other than the law enforcement agency that is being scrutinized,“ he said. “The level of force in response to reasonable suspicion seems to be excessive.”
The San Jose city attorney’s office is investigating this incident. The mayor leads a city council effort to make the San Jose Police Department more accountable and transparent. As for the Gonzales case, he’s due back in federal court in September as the city seeks to have his civil rights case dismissed.