Air Force veteran Manuel Gutierrez filed a $1 million claim against the Covina Police Department Monday, claiming he was robbed at gunpoint in his own driveway after another car followed him home and that Covina police arrived to tell him he was hallucinating and placed on an involuntary psychiatric hold.
"Just a nightmare--I hope this doesn't happen to anyone else," Gutierrez said at a news conference.
The veteran said he was followed home and robbed in his driveway around 3 a.m.
Gutierrez's mother said she heard her son say, "Why are you doing this? I don't have no money. Leave me alone. Get away from me."
"I was awoken by my wife screaming 'Call 911!'" Gutierrez's father said.
According to a Covina Police Department statement, when Officer Vanessa Pineda arrived on scene, she found no evidence of a crime and Gutierrez was holding a baseball bat and acting suspiciously, so she placed him on a 72-hour psychiatric 5150 hold against his will.
"Once I told her I was a veteran, she began self-diagnosing me with PTSD," Gutierrez said. "I calmly told her I've never been diagnosed with PTSD."
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Gutierrez's father says within an hour, he obtained security camera video from a neighbor that he claims shows a car following his son into the family's driveway. Despite showing the video to police and hospital staff, it still took 60 hours to get his son released from the involuntary hold.
"I was denied protection, humiliated, and stripped of my sense of security," Gutierrez said.
The police department has 45 days to respond to Gutierrez's claim before a lawsuit is filed.