A new legal claim says a California Black man who was suffering a mental health episode during his arrest in February was wrongfully arrested and subjected to excessive force.
According to a federal civil rights claim filed on Tuesday, Oct. 13, against the city of Long Beach, California, by the attorneys of Eugene Martindale III, the 25-year-old was Tased and beaten with a baton during his arrest after witnesses interpreted his mental health crisis as aggressive behavior.
The lawsuit alleges that Martindale was trying to get help from someone inside a vehicle on the afternoon of Feb. 15 as he approached a car parked by a 7-Eleven. The suit seeks damages for emotional distress, physical pain and loss of income. Martindale is being represented by attorneys Rodney Diggs and Toni Jaramilla.
A security guard assumed that Martindale was trying to steal, and yelled at him. After that, Martindale began climbing on cars and trying to get inside of them. His father, Eugene Martindale Jr., said his son is not a carjacker and does not know how to drive.
The elder Martindale said he has received calls from people to pick up his son after he sought assistance from bystanders. The younger Martindale does not have a phone of his own. The specifics surrounding the type of mental illness Martindale suffers from haven’t been disclosed, but his father said the problems stem from a period of heavy drug use. Martindale has been off the drugs for two years, his father said.
Martindale allegedly tried to ask the security guard to call his father but could not remember the phone number. The security guard Tased the man when he did not leave.
Martindale then attempted to get help from a parking enforcement worker, his attorneys claim in their filing. When he pulled on the door of the Jeep and reached inside the window, the security guard Tased him a second time.
Martindale’s attorney said he complied when officers arrived, but police said he began to thrash his body and resist arrest.
A short video of a portion of the arrest captured some of the 12-plus baton strikes Martindale received as he was arrested. A carotid-control hold intended to cut off blood supply to the brain was also used on Martindale. The hold was banned by LBPD following backlash after Martindale’s arrest.
“I was sick to my stomach, I couldn’t watch it,” Martindale’s father said of the footage at a press conference on Tuesday.
He was taken to the hospital and released a day later. the lawsuit claims Martindale was subjected to harsh treatment because of his race and disability. One of his attorney’s called the arrest “Rodney King-like.”
“What Mr. Martindale needed was help, not beatings,” attorney Diggs said. “He needed compassion, not beatings.”
Although Martindale was arrested on suspicion of carjacking, he was not charged with it. He pleaded no contest to two felony counts of resisting arrest and was sentenced to one year in prison and three years probation.
Martindale was arrested again in May on suspicion of robbery charges. The Long Beach Post News reports he pleaded no contest to assault likely to produce great bodily injury in and was sentence two years in jail in that case.
He is receiving psychiatric care while in jail, his attorneys report.