Smith’s Case With the Tulare Police Department Still Unresolved

A hearing was held on September 24 for Jonathan Smith who was facing possible charges of resisting arrest. This, one month following Smith’s altercation with members of the Tulare Police Department, where, he has said, he was severely beaten, and arrested resisting arrest.

The hearing lasted only a few minutes. The lawyer representing the District Attorney’s office told the judge that they were not yet pressing charges.

According to Assistant District Attorney Anthony Fultz, the DA’s office has a year to press charges for misdemeanors but normally likes to get cases wrapped up in a timely manner.

He said that Smith’s case presents some unique issues and the department wants to ensure they make the correct decision. Because the DA’s office is taking its time to review all of the facts, they have not yet decided whether to press charges. Fultz could not comment on the facts of the case until the DA’s office review was completed. Charges will be pressed if the DA believes that Smith did engage in illegal activity.

Smith and his attorneys, Maggie Melo and John Sarsfield, are considering filing a civil suit for the injuries he sustained during the arrest.

According to a September 15 letter Melo and Sarsfield sent to Tulare’s City Manager, “he (Smith) was assaulted, without legal cause or excuse, by officers of the City of Tulare police department. He sustained significant, serious physical injuries, including but not limited to damage to his eye, concussion, bruising, and pain and suffering. He was wrongfully arrested and booked in the County Jail. He was denied proper medical care by your officers. Additionally, his pet golden retriever was mistreated by the officers who tazered and pepper-sprayed the dog.”

“Your officers violated a variety of civil rights laws in assaulting and arresting Mr. Smith. They have seized and wrongfully withhold his personal property (a cell phone) without either a court order or other legal authority. They searched the phone and its contents without a warrant. Since receiving the beating at the hands of your officers, Mr. Smith and his friends or family have been continued to be harassed by your employees, most recently this past weekend.”

Smith’s lawyers cannot obtain a copy of the police report until and if the DA presses charges, and do not even know if one was completed.

At this time, no one outside of the TPD knows the police department’s side of the story or even which Tulare Police officers were involved. Melo and Sarsfield said they have been trying to work amicably with the TPD and have asked for the identities of the police officers. They have also asked for the return of Smith’s cell phones. The lawyers anticipate that it will take a few weeks to get the cell phones back.

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