SAN JOSE, Calif. (KTVU) - A veteran San Jose police officer is facing an assault and battery charge for a violent arrest caught on camera. Prosecutors said the officer is seen on cell phone and body camera video kicking and dragging a woman during a traffic stop back in July.
Officer Matthew Rodriguez, with 11 years on the force, is in the process of arranging a "self-surrender.” He will then be given an arraignment date. The officer is disputing claims of excessive use of force. His attorney said he plans to plead not guilty.
“Officer Rodriguez used more force than necessary to take the victim into custody and when he did that he breached the trust of the community,” said Santa Clara County Deputy District Attorney Jason Malinsky.
Prosecutors said back on July 22, at a McDonald’s parking lot in San Jose, the woman placed in handcuffs was compliant.
“In this situation she was complying with his commands, doing everything she could to do what he said he wanted her to do,” said Malinsky.
The arrest comes amid national debate over police reform. San Jose Police has faced criticism for its handling of Black Lives Matter protestors.
“It’s a move in the right direction but at the same time I’m apprehensive,” said Jethroe Moore of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP. “I want to see the whole process play out. I’m also disappointed the police department has not fired him.”
In a statement the San Jose police union writes, “Virtually every felony car stop can be dangerous for the responding officer and they are trained to be at a heightened state of vigilance. It is unfortunate and wrong
that the district attorney is politicizing this incident by criminalizing the actions of our officer."
“There was no beating, there were no serious injuries here,” said Rodriguez’s attorney Michael Rains.
Rains said Rodriguez thought the woman was driving a stolen car that had fled from police earlier in the day. He said the driver had closed the door on officers initially and did not get her hands up posing a threat.
“He tried to kick her hard enough so she knew force had been applied there so she wouldn’t reach down and grab something he was concerned with,” said Rains.
San Jose Police Chief Eddie Garcia also issued a statement, “These types of investigations are deeply disappointing but are necessary. Every day hundreds of San Jose officers patrol our city and encounter similarly challenging circumstances and navigate them appropriately."
If convicted, Rodriguez could face a year in jail.