Protester Injured by San Jose Police Won’t Face Charges

Prosecutors have declined to file charges against a man whose knee was shattered when police arrested him on the first day of George Floyd protests in downtown San Jose.

In one of the most widely publicized incidents from local demonstrations, the San Jose Police Department on May 29 aggressively detained 36-year-old David Baca after he closed in on a line of officers firing rubber bullets.

Police defended their response—in which several officers piled on Baca with such force that they choked off oxygen and broke his knee—by saying he approached too quickly, swung his arms and tried to wrest away a wooden club used to fend him off. In referring the case to the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office, SJPD asked prosecutors to charge him with assault and battery of an officer.

Baca, for his part, has maintained that he walked up to the line with his cellphone outstretched to film an officer who seemed to be overusing his riot gun on people of color.

A spokesman for DA Jeff Rosen confirmed his office would drop the case based on “an insufficiency of evidence,” but declined to elaborate.

Dan Mayfield, Baca’s attorney, applauded the DA’s decision.

“First and foremost, I think what it says is that our district attorney’s office is truly looking at these [protest-related] cases, and they’re looking at them individually, as they said they would,” he said in a phone call Monday. “I can’t speak for them, but it seems they decided they couldn’t prove the allegations beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Baca’s arrest at Seventh and Santa Clara streets went viral, thanks to aerial footage from ABC7 News, a photo by Associated Press photographer Ben Margot that showed an officer with a truncheon pressed against Baca’s throat and images shot from another angle by San Jose Inside correspondent Kyle Martin. Margot’s photo was subsequently broadcast on national media, including The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

San Jose PD cited the incident in a 247-page report to the City Council detailing its controversially heavy-handed response to the protests that broke out in late May and lasted through the following month. In the after-action report, police said Baca “suddenly advanced” on one of the cops in violation of an order to disperse from what had been declared an “unlawful assembly.”

Mayfield disputed SJPD’s characterization, saying he measured the painted lane dividers and analyzed aerial news footage to determine that Baca came no closer than five feet to the skirmish line. As for Baca’s swinging his arms, he told San Jose Inside said that was an instinctive reaction to being choked by a baton.

In police footage of the incident, Baca can be heard saying, “I can’t breathe.”

Baca had to undergo a five-and-a-half-hour surgery to repair the broken knee sustained during his arrest. Six months later, his family says he has yet to fully recover.

Meanwhile, Baca’s attorneys say the ordeal is far from over.

Mayfield has filed a public-records request asking the city to release additional body-camera footage and police reports related to the incident. And one of colleagues, attorney Jerry Fong, said they may file a civil lawsuit.

“At this point,” he said, “we are exploring all options concerning future litigation.”

Sgt. Christian Camarillo, a spokesman for SJPD, said the agency is conducting an internal investigation into the same incident. “Thus,” he said, “we have no comment, nor are we releasing additional footage at the time.”

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

26 Comments

  1. > In the after-action report, police said Baca “suddenly advanced” on one of the cops in violation of an order to disperse from what had been declared an “unlawful assembly.”

    Sounds like he wasn’t a “peaceful protester”.

    Shame on Jeff Rosen. Yet again.

  2. She let my son get raped, poisoned me, and separated me from my kids. Now she insists that I will be incarcerated if I don’t submit to an evaluation that she will tamper with. Valerie says that I must pay her “taxes” by letting a rapist have parental rights to my daughter.

  3. Besides letting my son get molested and now giving my daughter to a rapist, here is what they are covering up:

    In the year leading up to my divorce, my ex-wife started bathing with my then 8 year old daughter and two year old son in the bathtub that was located in the hallway of our Cupertino home. It occurred in the middle of the day and after they had both bathed in the morning using the shower. In the six years that we lived in that house, the bathtub had never been used up until that point.

    The door to the bathroom was always closed, so I don’t know what happened inside.

    My daughter was extremely outgoing and social. She had a well above average number of friends from school. After my ex-wife started using the bathtub with my daughter and youngest son, my daughter began complaining that she didn’t have any friends. Her general demeanor drastically changed almost overnight. She went from friendly, relaxed, and bubbly to withdrawn, anxious, and mean spirited.

    My two year old son started saying that he was a girl.

    There was one occasion when my ex-wife was looking at my daughter when she was about 7 and remarked that she would have a “good body”. That was before the baths started occurring. There was also an instance early in our relationship that my ex-wife stated that she was curious what it would be like to have sex with her own father.

    On several occasions during the year before my divorce I observed my then 11 year old son rubbing his genital area against the buttocks of my two year old son while both were crawling. They were playing some kind of game. I separated them out on several occasions. I also brought it up to my ex-wife. She ignored me and changed the subject. I became confused and stopped thinking about it.

    After my divorce was finalized, I began to suspect that my children were being molested.

    In December of 2015 I called CPS. They declined to take any action.

    During that same month I also spoke with Detective Hanks of the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department. She did not let me make a complete report of the aforementioned facts. Det. Hanks made it clear that she thought that I was not telling the truth and doing so because of the divorce. She threatened to have me arrested for making a false police report.

    In May of 2017 I asked to speak with someone else at the Sheriff’s Department. I was put in touch with Sargent Shaheen, who was much nicer and willing to listen to me. She stated that there was not enough information to start an investigation.

    My ex-wife dropped fairly explicit hints to Ms. O’Leary (supervisor of visitation) in April of 2014 about my son having sexual contact with my sister’s 30 something year old boyfriend. My ex-wife then held him out of visitation. When I saw him again, I could see it on his face and in his behavior. He would go through long periods of being withdrawn during visitation and wouldn’t make any eye contact. I promptly told Ms. Houghton, Ms. Amini (my other attorney), and Ms. O’Leary what I thought was happening.

    I stopped thinking about it because they mostly ignored me and because I was not able to confirm it with my son. It was at the next hearing after I reported it, that my ex-wife surprisingly disclosed that she had hidden the gold coins and agreed by stipulation to give most of it to Ms. Amini to be held in trust.

    In August of 2018 I began to realize that it was likely that my 13 year old son was likely also molested. At that time I called Sargent Shaheen and reported it.

    After my son turned 18 Judge Towery said that I was “free to contact” him because he “aged out.” I was then able to confirm that he had indeed been molested. My son told me on several occasions that he was suicidal because of that experience.

    I told my son to go to the police. A week and a half later an order was filed on the judge’s own accord that I could only have supervised visitation with him.

    In any case, I also reported to Sargent Shaheen that my son confirmed being molested. She said that he would need to report it himself. She also said that it was separate from what I reported about the other kids, so she would not investigate.

  4. Everyone needs to pay. Don’t think that this is limited to my kids.

    My ex-wife started volunteering at a church nursery. She also volunteers at the kid’s schools.

    And when my kids grow up, they will likely also do the same.

    BUT THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IS THAT VALERIE”S HANDS ARE CLEAN.

  5. Maybe she thinks that it will all be over after she has me deemed mentally incompetent. Maybe then I will be quiet.

  6. > David Baca and his wife Lisa Robles now plan to file a civil lawsuit over the incident.

    If you see me in the jury pool, have your lawyer disqualify me.

    Otherwise, no dough for you.

  7. I can’t wait for one of these anarchist pukes to introduce Mr. Rosen to their version of peaceful protesting.

  8. Jennifer, your prejudice is showing.

    For the last several decades – at least the last 40 years of which I am directly aware – SJPD has equipped its officers with wooden batons. As part of daily patrol, officers can use one from 26 inches to 29 inches long and also have the option to use various collapsible-type batons which they acquire at their own expense. For the purposes of riot-control and crowd control officers are trained in the use of – and issued – a longer baton (41 inches long, I believe).

    Officers do not use ‘wooden clubs’, or ‘truncheons’. The use of such language as an alternative to commonly and officially recognized terms is deliberately inflammatory and inaccurate.

    Finally, when confronted with a dispersal order lawfully issued by law-enforcement. the *only* correct and legal response is to do just that: disperse. That Mr. Baca did not do so does not seem to be in dispute. Certainly his attorney has not stated that Mr. Baca was in compliance with said order. And, so, regardless of DA Rosen’s decision to not prosecute, the logical observer would conclude that Mr. Baca broke the law. Had he not, had he instead decided to leave the area, it is highly unlikely that he would have sustained any form of injury at all.

  9. What about the lady sitting inside her apartment watching TV who was hit by one of the errant SJPD rubber bullets? Are the bad shots held accountable?
    Look also at what happened to Chris David in Portland. No action from the DA there.

  10. Now if MR. Baca had been to a resent Trump rally and had been sat upon and broken by and angry BLM- ANTIFA mob chanting death to America and waving Mexican flags. Do any of you here think this would be a news worthy story?

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