A Rohnert Park man has sued the city and a police officer for pulling a gun on him when he was taking a video in front of his house, alleging his freedom of speech and right to assemble were violated.
Auto mechanic Don McComas filed a civil rights lawsuit May 18 in federal court in San Francisco, seeking compensatory and exemplary damages, injunctive relief, costs and attorney fees. His lawyers, Daniel Beck and Evan Livingstone, allege that their client's First and Fourteenth amendments were violated when the officer pulled out a gun “in retaliation for plaintiff exercising his right to record police activity.”
McComas took video of the officer July 29, 2015 on his cell phone, which he later posted on a now-viral Facebook post, which was up, but then taken down at some point.
The city attorney's office did not respond Tuesday to a request by NBC Bay Area seeking comment. But in October 2015, a city investigation found that Police Officer David Rodriguez's actions were reasonable and did not violate city policy, citing McComas' "agitated behavior" and a "bulge" in his pocket.
In an earlier claim filed with the city, McComas alleged he was “mocked,” “harassed” and “threatened” by Rodriguez. The claim also alleges that the officer falsified his report to the city. Those particular claims are not in the lawsuit.
But McComas did stick to the allegations of feeling "threatened" by Rodriguez last summer, while he was hitching his boat up in his driveway when the officer started driving around his neighborhood.
In McComas' cell phone video, the officer is seen getting out of his cruiser, drawing his gun in a residential neighborhood and telling McComas to take his hand from his pocket.
McComas said: "No, I haven't done anything," the lawsuit states.
Rodriguez then held his own weapon in a "ready position" and advanced to McComas in a "threatening manner," the lawsuit alleges.
In an earlier interview, McComas' attorney, Beck, told NBC Bay Area that as far as he knows, McComas had one criminal brush with the law in his life: speeding in a hot rod and evading the police when he was 19. He described McComas, a husband and father, as a “regular guy.”
The case was assigned to Hon. Thelton Henderson, with a case management date set for Aug. 22.