SJPD Officer Charged with Misdemeanor After Kicking, Dragging Woman Under Arrest

A San Jose police officer has been charged with misdemeanor assault and battery after he was caught on video this past summer kicking and dragging a woman he was arresting in a McDonald’s parking lot.

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen on Tuesday filed charges against 39-year-old Matthew Rodriguez, an 11-year veteran of the force and a member of the San Jose Police Department’s Violent Crimes Enforcement Team.

The charges follow a tumultuous summer for the SJPD, which has faced backlash over the handling of the George Floyd protests.

Rosen’s announcement comes after a bystander captured a minute-long video of Rodriguez kicking a woman before he forced her to the ground and handcuffed her hands behind her back in late July. Once the woman—who was later identified as 39-year-old San Jose resident Guadalupe Esperanza Marin—was in handcuffs, Rodriguez drags her face-first by her arms across the ground.

At the time, SJPD spokesperson Sgt. Enrique Garcia told San Jose Inside officers had initiated a vehicle stop on East Santa Clara and North 27th streets on a car wanted for evading officers. “Officers used force during the arrest after the suspect failed to comply with their commands,” Garcia said.

Rodriguez was put on administrative leave after the incident went viral on Twitter.

A news release from the District Attorney’s office Tuesday said Rodriguez plans to self-surrender on his arrest warrant. If convicted, he would face a year in jail.

“Officers have a difficult job, but they also should be held to a high standard,” Rosen said in a prepared statement. “No officer should use more force than necessary to take a person into custody. When they do, they not only commit a crime, they weaken the bonds of trust with the community that so many excellent police officers have worked their entire careers to build. The SJPD detectives assigned to this case conducted a fair, thorough, and professional investigation involving one of their own officers.”

According to the police report, Rodriguez told the woman he was “going to kick [her] in the f*cking face.” Once Rodriguez dragged her across the ground he asked her “why [she] didn’t f*cking listen?”

Rosen’s announcement Tuesday notes that video evidence shows the woman was attempting to cooperate at the time. Rodriguez later told other officers that he had no intent to actually kick her in the face.

But in his police report, Rodriguez said he “didn’t like the position he was in and knew he had to move her as quick as possible,” as the woman did not comply with his commands. He worried when she moved her hands toward her waistband, although he did not remember seeing a weapon in her pants.

“[The woman] made Officer Rodriguez feel uncomfortable and he did not want to get hurt or his partner to get hurt,” the police report said. “Her non-compliance made him uncomfortable.”

Esperanza Marin, the woman in question, suffered contusions and lacerations to her face, stomach and legs.

San Jose Police Officers’ Association President Sgt. Paul Kelly rebuked Rosen for his decision in a statement to San Jose Inside.

“Virtually every felony car stop can be dangerous for the responding officer and they are trained to be at a heightened state of vigilance when making these stops and potential arrests,” the union leader said. “It is unfortunate and wrong that the district attorney is politicizing this incident by criminalizing the actions of our officer who was responding to a very stressful incident.”

Grace Hase is a staff writer for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @grace_hase. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

23 Comments

  1. Did you read the article? The officer’s name is Rodriguez…. Smh stop with the whiteness BS. This is California not 1950’s Mississippi..

  2. According to Critical Race Theory, Rodriguez is white/Latinx and Marin is BIPOC. This happens all the time. It’s systemic, endemic.

  3. Finally, the corrupted culture of SJPD will face Jeff Rosen urgency to keep his job. What about Gilroy Police Rosen? I know all their dirty history and yours too! RECALL JEFF ROSEN!

  4. HOAPRES, addicts have rights too. Even if she was under the influence, there was no reason for that @sshole to assault her. The criminal in this story is him not her! Good job and big thanks to those who took the video. We have to work together to protect each other from these criminal law enforcement! WE THE PEOPLE!

  5. Maybe or maybe not. Depends on how high the addict was. One thing is for sure if you assault me then I am going to use enough force to stop the threat. Don’t know what happened here.

  6. So if the Officer assaults you,you’re going to use enough force to stop him ? I don’t think many people will be wearing “Idiots Lives Matter” shirts when your body temperature matchs the temperature outdoors.

  7. This is a case of a police officer losing his temper and abusing his power. End of story. Glad he’s being held accountable.

  8. YES — if YOU as a ‘Peace officer’ VIOLATE the U.S. Constitution — bet YOUR ASS — you as a public servant have ‘Politized it ‘ — Sgt. Paul Kelly !!! — as a person who has law enforcement background — i would NOT embrace that comment — as an excuse to abuse your authority. — IT is a HARD JOB !! we know this already! — but again REMEMBER — NO ONE put a GUN to your head to fill out application for that line of work. If you can’t handle it — perhaps working at Home Depot would be suitable alternative option — As former military served in Iraq — I respect and VALUE the Constitution !! Thank you Mr. Rosen and please continue to honor ‘law and order’ by demonstrating your appropriate action(s) in this case.

  9. Amén to the logic on your comment Manny. Thank you for your service! Thank you to those lawful law enforcement. I know it is not all of you. Unfortunately the criminal law enforcement wear the same uniform. They cause harm to you too.

  10. @KAREN’S DADDY (HE)

    Yes Rosen, white privileged male, putting brown bodies in cages. Can you read?

  11. This is straight criminal, violent and police brutality! No excuses. Shame on the Sgt for justifying this violent act on a citizen, a handcuffed woman at that! She should sue their dept!

  12. When I look at that video I see, in the two participants, one who has opted to break the law and one whose sworn duty is to uphold it. The inequality created by the situation is at once apparent.

    The criminal’s situation, a product of her own behavior, is stable. She’s been apprehended, and short of causing serious injury to the officer she will face no further consequences for her efforts to conceal evidence, resist arrest, aggravate, threaten, or stress the officer. Not that there are no laws against such behavior, but simply because DA’s like Rosen have consistently denied street cops the maximum protection afforded by the law.

    The officer’s situation is far from stable. Duty demands he take the criminal into custody and do what he can to help his fellow officers control the situation; training and common sense dictate he achieve this without further endangering himself or his coworkers; criminal law and department policy demand he use only reasonable force.

    There is no reason to believe that had the criminal complied with the officer’s legal commands the arrest would’ve been anything but routine. But she didn’t. She instead forced the officer to choose whether to get down close to her on the pavement (putting himself at risk from hidden weapons or bad intentions) or to do something so he could make safe her hands, grab them, and quickly cuff her. He chose the latter and did so with a kick, one whose severity appeared intended to jolt rather than injure.

    It is patently unfair to judge the kick while assuming that an alternative approach would not have required an equal or elevated use of force. Remember, the criminal was uncooperative and resisting from the start; no one can say what she might have forced the officer to do had he bent down and put himself within her reach. For all we know she might’ve done something to make him punch her or, heaven forbid, put her in a headlock (with the potential for going viral!).

    After being cuffed the criminal refused to unbend her legs and stand up, causing the officer to choose between forcing her up against the car in which his fellow officers were shouting orders at other, as yet uncontrolled suspects, or physically relocate her to a safer spot. He chose the latter, and did so with a swiftness suggesting a strong desire to get himself away from the suspect vehicle. Again, we cannot assume any better outcome had he decided otherwise.

    The bottomline is simple: the law authorizes punishment for resisting arrest, so there is no reason to see injustice in what this criminal’s resistance caused her.

    It is said the officer is an 11-year veteran, which means he’s been in a lot of tough situations, made a lot of arrests, and is an experienced and presumably valuable asset to the department. It also means his conduct has been observed and documented (appraisals, commendations, possibly disciplinary issues) for over a decade, so it would seem that the police chief would be in the best position to assess and address the officer’s conduct in a way that best serves the public interest (from no punishment all the way up to termination). Why the DA decided to insert himself is apparent and repugnant: his strong desire to add a cop’s scalp in his progressive résumé.

  13. PHU TAN — THIS IS NOT A COMMUNIST COUNTRY ! — I question your familiarity with the U.S. Constitution and Bill of Rights — you apparently ARE NOT familiar or aligned with these VALUES – many of my relatives have died and served in military for generations- have any of yours done so for this GREAT NATION? Some of my relatives now retired -have also served in law enforcement , and feel that officers like this (Rodriquez) made the job of being a police officer A LOT MORE DANGEROUS for THEM (they repeatedly told me) !!! — NO MATTER what she did or DID NOT DO– A DOG should not even be treated like this ! But then again, you may not like DOGS either– who knows? I do NOT agree with her attitude either — LETS BE CLEAR ON That Mr. Tan ! Under any circumstance , ANY circumstance! – Mr. TAN !! — If you really Fail to SEE or recognize these values ANY of these “Freedoms” and values of the U.S. Constitution of this GREAT NATION we All love and embrace — Then perhaps places like North Korea or China would welcome you with OPEN arms and you would be a lot happier living there– so please go there if you must and give up your U.S. citizenship DO SO and make yourself ‘happy’ there ! —

  14. Manny,

    Did those relatives of yours who fought and sacrificed in service to this country do so believing Americans should be banished from their homeland for having a contrary opinion? Here’s a word of advice, before wrapping yourself in the flag and citing the Constitution take a deep breath and do a little thinking.

    As for my comment, if you read it carefully you will see my intent was the officer’s conduct be judged by someone with experience and expertise (as opposed to a clueless pantywaist interested only in elevating himself politically). Besides the law and applicable policies, the police chief has knowledge of the individual officer as well as the challenges and perils involved in chaotic arrest incidents. Should the chief decide the behavior warrants internal discipline, or even something more, at least we can assume that some level of objectivity is in play. But given the current political climate, and Jeff Rosen’s recognized desire to exploit it (suddenly wanting to take over all internal investigations), absent the chief’s acquiescence this looks more like trophy-hunting than justice.

    It is clear to me that we differ in our concerns. Mine are, in order, the public’s safety, the officer’s safety, the criminal’s fair treatment. You, and many others, have focused on the treatment of the criminal despite the fact that it was the criminal’s behavior, not the officer’s, that prompted the questionable conduct. People like you, and there are a great many, are quite happy to grant every criminal the right to test, resist, and imperil the patience, physical ability, and self-preservation instincts of an arresting officer. Fine, except that is not what we hire the police to do. They are not hired to be punching bags, or serve as targets for politicized brats, or risk life-and-death at the whim of recalcitrant offenders.

    Just a guess, but I think I’d be quite happy to have Officer Rodriguez watching out for my neighborhood, seeing as how he has a record of putting the public’s safety above all others — even his own. As for the criminal for whom you feel such compassion, were she in my neighborhood I’d be forced to eye her closely until the authorities arrived, and then hope like hell that it wasn’t the likes of Jeff Rosen who answered my call.

  15. Having just read the police report, the woman dragged, had a meth pipe in her purse, had bought Two stolen cars off ‘Offer Up’ in the last two months (first one was impounded) that had been used in crimes. Clearly not off sound mind either if she was high at the time or not.
    While I agree there was an excessive use of force, changing the way we train police officers (demilitarize) is what is the root of the situation being called into question. IMHO

  16. There is nothing wrong with my embracing the Flag or the U.S. Constitution as you are suggesting that i am doing to ‘politicize it’–but that is always the ‘conventional excuse’ and is currently fashionable to OVER use and distract of the real issue(s) at hand as you have just used- or the Bill of Rights (you left that one out) and apparently don’t want to ‘bring up’ with detail or respect — but that’s fine — But i do ask that you please choose your words carefully before you ignore its true worth and meaning. Please don’t patronize that. Peace officers are not ‘punching bags’ agreed ! nor do i condone this action towards them. It sounds to me like your mindset of ‘them or us’ mentality that is part of the PROBLEM. — it is ‘US’ –all of US ! — NOT ‘Them’ we really be talking about!! ‘WE ARE US’ Are you ok with that concept?? That is the POINT ! Reality check : This is not an NFL Game. highlighting ‘them or us’ –or ‘criminals’ is not constructive talking point — in these trying dangerous times. Turning off fire with gas is not the answer. Why not look at ALL angles instead and go from there for starters like false police reports , Video cams, selective witnesses dispositions, discovery etc.. in Short ALL THE FACTS. And I do mean ALL — (not some) — not maybe — not even perhaps — ALL!! In short what you saw in the video you conclude is ‘criminals fair treatment’? – as you point out in your third paragraph Again : What i have a problem with–is your lack of supporting those words ‘fair treatment’ enlighten me, please — WHAT DOES THAT MEAN??– We are in conflict with that perception (you and me) but i know , i know let’s not talk about that or those details– I get it. You did not READ my post – please read it again. Because if you did, you would have at the very least done the effort to approach some of my points which you do not –NOT ONE ! You would rather just anchor your point(s) to the traditional : Its us / and ‘them’ mentality once again. Secondly i am not running for public office– so you can rest on that. Your points and are candid and obvious and i thank you for that. — I do have experience (and if you would like to explore that) more that please let me know — I work in judicial process directly with law enforcement — not in consumer service industry — so please don’t minimize my professional contributions — that you have no clue of what i have done in the areas of public service. The mentality : ‘them v.s. us’ that is wrong: even though you don’t just come out and say that directly — but in fact you do exactly just that between the lines. But if you are in public service — and my guess law enforcement — i can understand some of what you are concerned with. Again differences in opinion are all ok and welcomed — but at least lets be consistent with them.

  17. Manny, by the numbers.

    1. I referenced the flag and Constitution because you did something very un-American when you suggested that, because my opinion differed with yours, I should leave the country.
    2. Media coverage, radical rhetoric, and cowering leaders (governors, mayors, district attorneys) have left many in the public wearing blinders when it comes to judging police use-of-force incidents. Rather than focusing on the behavior of lawbreakers who, through assault or resistance, compel officers to escalate from using verbal commands (to which the majority of citizens respond) to using force, fault-finders zero in on the reaction of officers, far too often assuming that a less forceful response was both possible and safe.
    3. Believing that law enforcement does not involve an “us or them” component may make people feel warm and cozy but this belief is contradicted by the fact that laws exist, and harsh penalties are imposed. About this criminals are not confused: they spend considerable energy looking for “them” to victimize, looking out for “them” to avoid capture, and longing to get out and rejoin “them” whenever locked away in prisons. Parents, at least the good ones, raise their children to remain with “us,” the law-abiding, respectful, and productive.
    4. “Us or them” is also in evidence in a courtroom, a draconian domain where even law-abiding citizens are searched and their behavior tightly-controlled. Judges, from the most liberal to the most conservative, have remarkably little tolerance for misbehavior, and I am quite sure that should chaos of the type visible on the video clip occur every one of them would be happy to have a half-dozen Officer Rodriguez-types taking aggressive and decisive action to neutralize the threat and restore order.
    5. An idiotic conviction has been made popular about how police work can be done. In a nation that, despite a half-century of academic expertise, can’t make its children behave in school, keeps its young away from substance abuse, or convince its men to support their children, to believe these same know-it-alls can improve policing by “reimagining” it is an absurdity. I am sure that many who watched the video wondered why the officer didn’t “de-escalate” the situation with compelling words of understanding, while he remained in a position (within feet of suspects not-yet-searched and uncontrolled) his common sense, experience, and training told him was dangerous.
    6. The intent of my original comment was to make the point that the police chief, not the D.A., was the best judge of the officer’s tactics, yet he does not seem to have been involved in the decision-making. That point you seem to have missed, and instead jumped to the conclusion that I was acting as the decision-maker. All I offered was my opinion.
    7. You ramble on about your experience and professional contributions as if I even mentioned those: I did not.

  18. First and for most you all speaking on a situation that you only kno of through the media, and let me tell you the media dosent say everything nor dose it always give facts or truth. The story will be a mixed up and everyone’s opinions would have rearranged the truth by that point. I am the women from that video and i hate to read what some of u are saying as if your opinion matters. You dnt kno the truth u only kno what u read. Fist off no body was resisting and no body was displaying any force to the officer. And there wasn’t any stollen cars . both were paid for. Get the truth and facts be for u slander any one or try to make your truth the truth. Meth or no meth no body should have to feel like i did that day my nice and nephew were on the car with me . thy had to see what san jose police department is about first hand with there very own eyes. The force that was used that day was unappreciate and uncalled for. All that anger and animosity from that cop i had to go throw and the scars that i ware everyday. Just for the end results to be dropped and none of my arresting charges had anything to do with the car. And suppose accusations agents the car. All i hope for is for that police officer to be charged like any one else would be if a everyday person did what he did to some one thy would be in jail for felony assault.

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