Hundreds of Rubber Bullets Later, San Jose Confronts the Human Toll of Forceful Tactics

The first few hours seemed peaceful, as far as she could tell.

A 21-year-old SJSU psych major, Breanna Contreras joined the May 29 protest against police brutality shortly after it started. Along with hundreds, perhaps more than a thousand others, she and her 18-year-old sister and their father marched from San Jose City Hall to Highway 101, where the demonstration temporarily blocked traffic.

While marchers engaged in collective civil disobedience of overtaking a roadway, they self-regulated. When a couple protesters hopped on the hoods of idling cars, their peers urged them to disembark. One smashed a car window. Others vandalized a few San Jose police SUVs. By and large, however, Contreras says the demonstration remained peaceful as it began the journey back to downtown.

As the crowd approached a police skirmish line at Seventh and Santa Clara streets, Contreras’ dad urged his daughters to head home with him. “We wanted to stay, though,” Contreras says. “So, he left—it turns out, right before things got ugly.”

At 5:07pm, after about three hours of relative calm, chaos erupted. From where she stood, on a sidewalk where Seventh and Santa Clara streets intersect east of San Jose City Hall, Contreras could see clouds of tear gas swallow a crowd, prompting screams, expletives and pained coughs. Protesters fled.

Breanna Contreras provided photos of her injuries taken several days after she was struck.

As Contreras craned her neck to get a glimpse of the commotion, she felt something strike with a resounding thwack on her right temple. She careened back a few steps from the force of the impact but managed to stay standing.

“I just felt an instant of pain in my head,” she recalls, “at the same time I heard the pop of the riot guns. From that, you know, I put two and two together and realized I’d been hit.”

As her sister filmed the skirmish, unaware of what just happened, Contreras stumbled away from the bedlam. A stranger saw the bloody gash and rushed to help, taking the cloth mask from her face to stanch the wound. The stranger pulled her farther down Seventh Street and sat her against a wall, where her sister found her after tending to someone choked by tear gas.

All the while, police continued firing off riot guns. One struck the Good Samaritan in the leg. Another hit a nearby woman in the belly.

The Contreras sisters scrambled up and began walking down the street in search of an ambulance. A paramedic rushed to their aid, cleaning Contreras’ wound, giving her an ice pack to quell the throbbing and advising her to go see a doctor to close the split skin.

Contreras says she heard no verbal warning from SJPD about their intent to use riot guns or physical force. Though the city’s highest-ranking law enforcement officials later said they gave repeated verbal warnings, Contreras says none were audible from where she stood—which wasn’t far from where the tumult erupted.

“It seemed that what happened there was a turning point,” Contreras says. “All that footage you see on the news of fires and fights and all that, those clips the big news channels kept showing, that’s when it all started. But that wasn’t the protest that I saw.”

‘Blood Everywhere’

Thirty-three-year-old San Jose native Jose Ruiz arrived to the protest just as things took a turn for the turbulent. He says he saw a young woman worked up, shouting at cops who seemed ready to fire off riot guns at close range.

“It looked like he was going to shoot her, point-blank,” he recounts. “So, I ran up, put my hands up and said, ‘Don’t shoot! Don’t shoot!’”

That didn’t stop them. The foam-capped metal rounds hammered the woman and Ruiz—one striking his right pinky, hyperextending it to the point that his skin split open.

“They hit that girl in the shoulder,” he says, “and here I am leaking blood everywhere. That’s when I saw protesters start throwing a bunch of bottles at the cops. I start yelling—everyone starts yelling—and just telling them not to f*cking shoot.”

One of the pepper-spray projectiles launched by SJPD. (Photo courtesy of Shaunn Cartwright)

An “older guy” near Ruiz joined in the chorus to cease fire, but officers struck him with a baton. Then, “they dragged another guy and started hitting him,” Ruiz says. “So, I mean, I’ll admit I started using profanities. Everything just blew up. They began poking me with the baton in the rib cage and I fell down.”

The police line began advancing, launching rubber bullets, chemical weapons and beanbag rounds at the fleeing crowd. Ruiz recounts retreating down Santa Clara Street when a couple more rubber projectiles pelted him—one in the leg, one in the back—and a tear gas canister exploded right in front of him. A video uploaded to YouTube catches him moments later staggering toward a tree outside the Clarion Hotel and leaning against it to vomit.

He barely had a chance to collect himself when a dark SUV barreled around a row of cars parked on the left side of Third Street and screeched past screaming protesters—running over a young woman’s legs—until it screeched to a stop at the corner of Santa Clara. Police arrested the driver, reportedly a 19-year-old white man named Cole Rochlitz, who told NBC Bay Area correspondent Damian Trujillo that he raced down the street out of fear for his life. (Trujillo has since deleted a tweet about the incident, but a cached version still shows up in a Google search).

A handful of protesters who almost got hit by the motorist rushed up to the car and began smashing its windows. Cellphone footage captures snippets of the frenetic scene.

Ruiz says he tried to summon cops to help the woman who got run over by the SUV, but the officers retreated after taking the driver into custody.

“I ran to see if that girl was OK,” Ruiz says. “She obviously wasn’t, so I turn back to the cops and I’m like, ‘Dude, she could f*cking die. Go help her please—please help her!’ But they kept aiming, shooting at us and backing away.”

Another kind of projectile used by SJPD—pellet-filled bean bag socks fired from a shotgun.

From there, Ruiz says he jogged with the crowd up to Smoke Eaters restaurant, where he linked hands with other protesters on Third Street, faced the cops as a united front and began chanting, over and over, “Don’t shoot.”

“By then, it was already out of hand,” Ruiz says. “There was nothing we could do, so we just continued the protest by forming this group and just letting them know that we were peaceful. I wasn’t there to loot—none of my friends were there to loot, or riot.”

Throughout all the mayhem, he says, his hand felt mostly numb. At some point in the fracas, a guy took off his shirt so he could wrap his hand, stop the bleeding.

For a few days after, Ruiz tried to mend his split pinky at home with super glue. Finally, though, worried about infection, he went to the hospital. “The doctor was horrified,” he says. “Not just because of my pinky, but all the bruising on my bicep, my ribs, my chest. The doctor thought I’d have internal bleeding—thankfully I didn’t. And I saw plenty of other people get hurt much worse, so I guess I’m lucky.”

It’s unclear how many people came away from San Jose’s first few days of protests maimed or battered. Peter Allen, a San Jose Planning Commissioner, has spent the better part of the past two weeks nursing a contusion with a basketball’s circumference from one of the same projectiles known colloquially as rubber bullets.

As was Alex McGregor, who told the City Council on Tuesday that the May 29 march marked the first protest he’d ever attended. “I was shot by one of your projectiles,” he told the council in an impassioned call. “I did not throw anything. I have a plate-sized bruise on the side of my arm that’s still visible 11 days later. There were other people around me who were much younger and much smaller, who were very peaceful with nothing to protect themselves but their cardboard signs.”

Shaunn Cartwright, a legal observer certified by the National Lawyers Guild, took another hit, which happened to be on a bad knee.

Then there’s Derrick Sanderlin.

The 27-year-old activist has become nationally known at this point for what SJPD did to him on the first day of protests. While he was trying to urge officers to calm down, standing between their riot guns and a line of protesters outside of First Methodist Church, cops shot him in the groin with a rubber round, rupturing a testicle. The injury required an hours-long surgery and may leave him unable to have kids.

On May 29 alone, SJPD says it fired 31 pepper balls, 32 tear gas canisters and 400 baton rounds into the crowds. According to Capt. Jason Dwyer, the commander who authorized the so-called less-lethal crowd-control weapons, he had no choice.

American Carnage

The video starts with a cinematic shot of six San Jose cops staring down a dumpster fire. Then, aerial footage of Third and Santa Clara, where hundreds of protesters have overtaken the streets. One pushes a white trash bin, also ablaze, toward a gray SUV.

Cut to Highway 101, where we see a guy smashing a car’s driver-side window with something resembling a wrench. Flash-forward to City Hall. People chuck bottles at a police SUV slowly rolling past unruly crowds.

One of the Safariland-branded tear gas canisters thrown at protesters in San Jose.

A few minutes more of dizzying jump cuts show looters pilfering two-by-fours from a construction site, a motorist recklessly barreling past pedestrians, more trash fires. Windows shatter. Rocks fly. Officers drag a punch-drunk colleague out of the fray.

The chilling display evoked the “American carnage” President Trump envisioned during his first year in office, and it unfolded in the heart of the nation’s safest big city.

At least, that’s the message imparted by a five-minute montage screened at a June 4 press conference, where SJPD leaders doubled down on claims that they had no choice but to use tear gas, projectiles and sweeping arrests to quell unruly protests this past week.

“When my boots hit the ground, at Seventh and Santa Clara, I stepped into a war zone,” Special Operations Commander Capt. Dwyer told reporters. “That is not hyperbole, that is not in any way embellishment. I’ve been a cop for 21 years, spent nearly half that time in special operations, and I can tell you I’ve never seen anything like it.”

The veteran lawman issued the first order to deploy noxious chemicals, rubber plugs and metal pellet-filled beanbag rounds at demonstrators May 29, San Jose’s first day of protests in the wake of George Floyd’s killing by Minneapolis police Officer Derek Chauvin. Dwyer said he has no regrets about the decision, saying it was a choice between tear gas and projectiles or “losing the city.”

“I’ll tell you what,” Capt. Dwyer said of that day. “At 5pm on Friday, I made the call immediately. It wasn’t that difficult.”

The irony of SJPD using a highly edited video wasn’t lost on people who watched the presentation. Just days before, Mayor Sam Liccardo and SJPD Chief Eddie Garcia told this news outlet that all should reserve judgment about what happened because some footage doesn’t show what happened leading up to the incidents.

At that point, city officials hadn’t yet acknowledged the extent of the damage inflicted on members of the public. Liccardo—who by then had repeatedly praised the “tremendous restraint” of officers—stood mostly mute during the presser, which unfolded against an SJPD backdrop at the Mission Street police HQ.

The whole script felt overwrought, casting Capt. Dwyer and his men and women in blue as warriors under siege. “The No. 1 goal is to defend ourselves,” he said. “Because if we’re too busy rescuing injured officers, we can’t do the bigger job, which is saving the city—in this case, saving downtown.”

After several more minutes of wartime rhetoric, the commanding officer launched into an anecdote clearly meant to humanize him by reminding viewers that, at the end of the day, he’s also a family man. It began with a rock, which Capt. Dwyer say he picked up after being struck by one on his helmet.

Holding a gray stone up for reporters to see, he said, “I don’t know why, but I put it in my pocket, and I went about my day. I kinda forgot about it.”

The next morning, he recounted, his 5-year-old daughter saw it and, in Dwyer’s telling, asked, “Daddy, is that a new rock? Where did you get that rock?”

“I just said, ‘Daddy found it,’” he said. “And uh, I don’t think a 5-year-old would understand. But you know what this rock represents?”

Another angle of Breanna Contreras’ injuries.

He pauses, apologizing for “getting emotional” because of being on his 10th straight day of work and sixth day on the line.

“It represents the last thing that any of us wanted,” he continued. “This rock represents the last thing the police department wanted, it represents the last thing I wanted and it represents the last thing the community wanted. But it happened. And when it happens, as public servants, we have a decision, we have a choice. Do we let it happen, and let it get worse? Or do we try to stop it, before it gets out of hand and gets out of control? Do we try to keep, try to maintain order? And we chose the latter.”

The press conference elicited hundreds of angry comments. People posted on Facebook Live about how it smacked of “copaganda” and criticized the mayor for standing idly by as SJPD presented a one-sided narrative. What stood out to many observers who spoke to this news outlet and left comments on the SJPD Facebook page, was how police made no mention of de-escalation. Instead, they defended the response as a necessary reaction to the violence from civilian “agitators.”

By Dwyer’s own admission, however, he arrived at the scene after protests had already spiraled out of control. He framed what followed as an inevitability. In militaristic terms, he described the fire and fury of the crowd and how the bottles, sticks and chunks of asphalt thrown at officers prompted him to escalate to a violent response. He claimed—falsely—that the riot guns were aimed at the ground (a mischaracterization he would repeat to the City Council less than a week later).

Surprisingly, Dwyer divulged how he thought projectiles and tear gas made for better optics. “The force doesn’t look good,” he acknowledged. “It’s never going to look good. It’s ugly. We know it’s ugly. The community doesn’t like it, we don’t like it.”

But he said it’s better than the alternative.

“Then what’s left?” Dwyer asked. “Then we have archaic skirmish lines of police officers with 42-inch hardwood batons. Now you tell me which one is going to look worse: people rubbing their eyes and coughing? Or officers striking individuals with batons, and breaking bones and God knows how many other injuries, including officer-involved injuries. You’re looking at hand-to-hand combat at that point.”

“That is, I think, a scenario that nobody would want.”

Posted by San Jose Police Department on Thursday, June 4, 2020

Broken Bones

That’s the last thing David Baca wanted.

Around 5pm, the same time the May 29 escalated into the frenzy played on loop in TV segments and viral video, Baca was recording a skirmish line at Seventh and Santa Clara. From where he stood, it looked like a tall white officer was taking disproportionate aim at the black and brown protesters.

So, he held his cellphone at head height and walked up to the policeman to get a clear shot of his face. Baca says the plan was to get close enough to see his face, get his name and badge number and then walk down the line to record the rest of the officers.

What happened next has by now been seen by millions of people—including by viewers of The Daily Show with Trevor Noah.

One of the cops struck David Baca in the throat with a wooden club.

ABC7 news broadcast the overhead view, which shows Baca—hand out and up, recording the whole time—approaching the line. In a flash, a cop, who appeared to sport sergeant insignia, leaps out from behind the line to grab him. San Jose Inside photographer Kyle Martin captured the incident from just feet away.

The officer who jumped from behind the line strikes Baca on his Adam’s apple with an extra-long wooden truncheon. Baca gets knocked backwards by about a foot and disappears under a pile of blue-uniformed bodies. Once on the ground, Baca says he submitted, trying to remain as motionless as possible—even when he felt an excruciating pain on his right knee—so they would ease up.

When they finally backed off, they tried to lift him from the ground, but Baca couldn’t stand. Without reading his Miranda rights, officers accused him of assaulting them and said he’d face up to a year or two in jail for the offense.

Some of the cops, Baca says, refused to help him. But an older officer told him to lean his weight on him as he guided him over to a cop car, where another policeman stood with him for about 40 minutes until the ambulance arrived.

At Valley Med, in a ward reserved for injured arrestees, Baca says doctors told him his kneecap was shattered. It took a five-and-a-half-hour surgery to fix.

Meanwhile, hours passed before Baca’s wife, Lisa Robles, heard about what happened. When she called Baca’s mobile phone, a woman answered, saying she grabbed his phone after he got tackled and recorded as much of it as she could. It wasn’t until hours after the incident, when a paramedic let Baca use his phone while police weren’t looking, that he got to call Robles to tell her what happened.

The hospital released Baca a few days later, discharging him in a wheelchair and a knee brace. He was told it’ll take months to heal. How many medical bills he’s left with is undetermined (his wife started a GoFundMe to start raising enough for hospital and legal bills). But the mental toll has been, without a doubt, the worst part, Baca says.

When his family and all but one of his police and security-guard friends found out, he says they dismissed him as “an idiot,” and that he “should’ve known better.”

From the community room at his downtown apartment, Baca tears up while recounting the fallout. When he was down on the ground, with the weight of so many bodies on top of him, Baca says he braced himself for the worst.

“I’m just glad to be alive,” he says, his voice choked with emotion. “I could have died.”

David Baca and his wife Lisa Robles face a long road to recovery. (Photo by Jennifer Wadsworth)

Jennifer Wadsworth is the news editor for San Jose Inside and Metro Silicon Valley. Email tips to [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at @jennwadsworth. Or, click here to sign up for text updates about what she’s working on.

45 Comments

  1. NY was among the worst. San Jose Police “wannabe army soldiers”, could not see becoming second to the Brutality shown in NY and Buffalow. Out came the night sticks pounding on the backs of our citizens protesting the brutality they saw around the country and in Minneapolis, MN.

    Out came the riot guns held by agitators like Police Officer Jared Yuen. Out came the tear gas propellants. If we would not give them a fight then the police would incite us to fight. Moms and Pops, kids and cousins, grandpa and grandma were all struck down with the mighty force of our Police. What kind of City does that?

    How else can they get recognition from their fellow officers around the country? They needed to be tough! Except in doing so they became pathetic in the eyes of the world and this city.

    There is no better time than now to acknowledge those mistakes and send a signal to the community that SJPD gets IT.

    Change is gonna come. We will see to it. We ARE the PEOPLE. We are the ones that will see this through. Garcia and Liccardo can become part of the solution and have wonderful careers in politics or they can become part of the problem and will be dealt with, by US the PEOPLE.

    Rodney was the start, and I believe with George it will end. If you want to be a better cop, a better citizen, a better person, then let the love shine through. Respect your fellow man and woman.

    Like I heard CM Raul Peralez say on the Dais At City Hall, “let’s spread the love”. Although it was said in response to something else and entirely different I was speaking to council about, I still remember the words. Let’s put them to work.

    We are all here on this Earth for such a short and wonderful time. I would hate to see our time wasted beating each other up. Peace Baby! ?

  2. These are gut wrenching stories. It’s terrifying these acts of injustice can happen here.

    What divides people on their response to this incident is when they showed up to witness it. Sam Liccardo and Captain Dwyer have both acknowledged that they showed up after the chaos was already unfolding. All of the footage I have seen and all of the testimonies from people who were there that I have heard indicates that it was SJPD who sparked the chaos when they began indiscriminately firing rubber bullets (400, we now know) into the crowd.

    • Instead of just viewing footage, it would have been to hear what Chief Garcia told the Mayor & City Council during the Council meeting on the Tuesday after that weekend. It was chilling to hear his “side” and what had been going on behind the scenes. The instigators didn’t just pick up items laying around on the streets. According to Chief Garcia, they stole items from construction sites, except no tools (hhmm), filled water bottles with concrete, had huge bricks, 2x4s, and other things, then stockpiled them in areas where they could be retrieved easily. Those same people used the peaceful protestors as shields.

      I will add this…. I think Jared should be fired from SJPD, but I also know there is a protocol for any City employee, including police officers.

      • That is chilling if you take their word for it, but why should I take their word? They lost a serious amount of credibility with me when they selectively edited the footage of their altercation with David Baca to include it in their propaganda video, as if their beating of him was part of the evidence of the lawlessness that required his beating. They attacked him without provocation and then used the footage of them beating him to try to deceive the public into thinking he deserved it – how do you not realize that that situation is a microcosm of exactly what happened between the police and the protestors?

      • I watched video the day after it happened that showed a small number of men swing open a construction fence and start stealing construction materials, such as 2X4s and other materials. The police weren’t that close. However, a few members of the construction crew wearing safety vests came out, engaged the thieves/looters, chased them off the site, but not before some of them had stolen some stuff they Later threw at police. After that, the person taking the video moved on to other areas of the growing riot. The construction guys were standing guard so the rioters would not return.

  3. I am surprised, Chief Garcia, that you fell for this trap. Straight out of Realistic Radicals, sacrifice and disruption, escalation provocation, use of youth-ta-vists and fantastic visuals of black-eyed women. Makes for a visual train wreck that can only force weak-minded neutrals to support their cause, even if they don’t at first agree with the cause. And shut the opposition up. Don’t fool yourself, these people could not be happier about these injuries, it was exactly what they have been dreaming about for years planning their revolution.

    Perhaps Chief this is what you want too, to dismantle white supremacy and reimagine a utopian reality. Amp up your police, get them to over react, and then force the mayor to look foolish and Defund the Police. Frankly I would not be surprised. Who knows, but if you think this is the way to beat these Alinsky types, administering beat downs like this don’t work.

    Let them burn stuff for a few days, hopefully latino-owned stuff as blacks are too few in SJ. Then administer the beat downs once the demographic with real political power, latinos, have turned against them. We all know Asians and white people’s property don’t count.

    You are in a different kind of war now and if you are in denial that this is a war, Chief may be too much for you. You better get your mind right or you are going to watch San Jose go down the drain on your watch. Maybe that doesn’t bother you, I hope for all the San Josean’s sake, specifically the poor, it does. As Larry Stone has pointed out, San Jose is already barreling toward become the next Detroit, which was once the richest city in the US which collapsed into a dystopian nightmare. The rich will get out and get theirs don’t fret, but the poor will get less than nothing.

    And it will be on you.

    • Every police Chief gets their orders from their mayor. Every single one. Point your finger, but point it at the right person/people.

      • Please, San Jose Mayor is a ceremonial position. Chief Garcia has been playing the progressives against the monied since he got in. This is his resume and he should have seen this coming, these kids played him like a rookie.

  4. I’m the “older officer” who helped Mr Baca move over to the patrol vehicle & ambulance after his knee was injured. It’s very unfortunate that all of this has unfolded in the fashion that it has. I have knee problems as well, and when I saw him in custody with a busted leg, I couldn’t help but treat him like a human being..

    As far as the local debates about using force, there are a few things to keep in perspective:

    1: None of the officers there wanted to do any of that. I’m not Derek Chauvin. All we wanted was for everyone to protest peacefully. We support and defend the constitutional right to peaceably assemble. Yes, Jared Yuen made us look like garbage, he was far from perfect that day and his emotions got the better of him. He’s a human being after all…

    2: We are sworn to protect people and property (in that order). The article glossed over that patrol vehicles & passerby vehicles were getting smashed, and dumpsters being set on fire along with vandalism all up and down E Santa Clara St, East and west of City Hall.. It was a full blown RIOT, it was NOT a peaceful protest. Is it possible that agitators used the peaceful protestors to mask their intentions and actions? Absolutely, that happened in the Bay Area in the 1960’s & 1970’s and it’s nothing new.

    3: Our policy prior to the protests are to intentionally target people with less lethal projectiles who were specifically engaging in violence against police officers or other people. There are two sides to each story. Could some of the protesters who got hit with less lethal projectiles have been standing in front of/next to/behind someone who just threw something at a cop and they inadvertently got hit with a projectile?! Yes. That is unfortunate but it is a riot after all. Could their story be “I wasn’t doing anything and the cops did this for no reason” when in fact they were actively involved in the riot and threw frozen solid water bottles/rocks/bricks/chunks of pavers/metal poles etc at the cops and they got tagged righteously?! YES! I had every single one of those throw at me from Friday 5/29 to Sunday 5/31 multiple times each day.

    I arrested a man who was drunk on Sunday in front of City Hall, was annoying all of the other peaceful protesters, and eventually threw a glass bottle at my head. He got hit with less lethal projectiles before he was taken into custody. No one else was injured or hit. But they all called us Pigs, Facists, Racists, Bastards and everything else you can think of.

    When you’re at a peaceful protest and it turns into a riot or looks like it’s going that way, it’s probably time to leave, because we cannot/will not let our City be overrun by people seeking to burn it down and loot. Remember the Trump rally? We didn’t do enough, and the public let us know. Now we did too much, per the public outcry of the loudest voices right now. We hear you.

    From what I saw, it looked like a war zone. Speaking from experience, I was deployed overseas and have my combat action ribbon. Anyone who denies that it wasn’t a riot and out of control either wasn’t there or is lying. We did the best we could with what we had, and we still are trying to do better. San Jose is a very progressive department that engages in proactive training and policy adjustments prior to crisis. We are not perfect.

    • Buyers Remorse, FINALLY, someone as you came forward to tell exactly what happened during those days & nights!! FINALLY!! We are standing and applauding you! WE are with SJPD 100%! Chief Garcia gave them details to the Mayor & City Council. Videos, although provocative, rarely let the whole story. We were STUNNED as we heard Chief Garcia during that meeting. Thank you, and all of the officers, for your service to SJ.

    • You sir are in the wrong line of work. For sake of your sanity please do something else. SJPD threw the first punch. Fired the first volley. Committed the first of many atrocities, then took aim on a man’s reproductive organs, a woman’s temple and others their orbital sockets (eyes), and you call this policing?

      You or your commander gave the order to use force which lit the fuse and we all can see how this blew up. It was unnecessary use of force. Perhaps next time you will allow peacefully law abiding citizens to air their grievances without exacting the punishment you have claimed to be justified, but I doubt it.

      Please find that door the Chief spoke of and exit the police force. Jared Yuen needs to follow you out the same door. Do not stick up for your fellow officers by calling them “only human”. By minimizing their inhumanity you still don’t get IT.

      We don’t have the time or patience for cowboy cops. This is not the movies it is real life. Treat life with the sanctity it deserves. We are all human. Treat us as such. SJPD has shown us it’s true colors, black and blue. ENOUGH!

      • This officer was telling what he saw from his perspective, and more importantly putting a human face behind the shield. Anarchists such as yourself want no part of a dialogue because it is not peace you are after….

        • Do you really believe that “no justice, no peace” is something peaceful protesters should yell?

      • Peaceably assembling people have been left to protest, as they should. Once the violence stopped and peaceful protesters marched on City Hall/Police Department/DA’s Office without vandalizing it or looting, stopping vehicle traffic, sideshows, burning stuff etc, they’ve been largely left alone to protest by SJPD. It’s still going on daily with minimal to no police presence because it’s not needed. It’s a peaceful assembly. No problem.

        The RIOTERS who started, by their own admissions (!), vandalizing cars, lighting everything that they could on fire, throwing rocks etc at police were the ones who “threw the first punch.” We have always had the “order” (policy and CA Penal Code) to defend ourselves when we were attacked. Further, we have a duty to not let the City burn and get trashed. Many of the agitators were not from San Jose, and they were “professional” as far as knowing how to manipulate a crowd into a violent frenzy. It was a mob, nothing less or more innocent. That was where the fuse was lit, not by SJPD.

        I get IT that certain players such as yourself do not want to see the police as human, with emotions, flawed… we did the best we could. I’m proud of the officers who stood up against rioters and stopped chaos. I’m sorry, I truly regret, that innocent people stood by as it escalated and potentially got caught in the cross fire of less lethal ammunition/physical force directed at them or others. I’m sure all of their cases & claims will be vetted and investigated. If officers acted inappropriately, our Command holds us accountable. They do not sweep anything under the rug. Believe me, we have to pay when we mess up.

        If you can do it better, please come show us. We are hiring and anyone who wants to be a part of the solution to policing please, go through the background check, academy, Field Training, and push a beat car. Maybe you can get in front of a mob of violent rioters and do a significantly better job than we all did.. show us the way!

        • Why do you think he sounds like a warmonger? Because he used the word “atrocities” to describe nonviolent citizens having their reproductive organs ruptured and kneecaps shattered while protesting against police violence? Seems like your criticism is kind of misplaced.

          • > Why do you think he sounds like a warmonger? Because he used the word “atrocities” to describe nonviolent citizens having their reproductive organs ruptured and kneecaps shattered while protesting against police violence?

            “Atrocities” are justification for “war crimes tribunals”.

            What “war” justified the “tribunals”? The one where Bruce Sullivan claimed that “SJPD threw the first punch”.

            A. There’s no evidence to show that SJPD “threw the first punch”.
            B. SJPD is authorized by law and custom to “throw the first punch” at people who need punching because they won’t comply with the law. The law does not require the SJPD to sweetly ask rioters to stop rioting.

          • I would say that hearing someone call acts of injustice “atrocities” and jumping to the conclusion that they are calling for a war crimes tribunal is an example of hearing what you want to hear (in this case whatever will make a reasonable message such as “these were terrible acts” unreasonable).

            It’s also extremely telling that you would make those two arguments in conjunction. You don’t understand how the second one undercuts the first.

            Would love it if you could show me the part of the penal code where SJPD has the ability to declare martial law like you are describing.

    • Officer, first thank you for your service, I am sure you have seen a lot and been through a lot in your years serving San Jose. Reading your post it is clear to me you are trying to work your way through this and try to understand.

      But I think you have missed something important. And I think you know in back of your mind what is going on because you referenced the Trump Rally. It was not that you didn’t do enough at the Trump Rally to protect its citizens from a mob lying in wait. The San Jose Police lost its honor, its charter at the Trump Rally in June 2016, it lost everything that night really. You allowed a young blond women wearing Red White and Blue to be cornered, taunted, degraded, and then “egged” by a mob of fighting age men. The SJPD watched the events from behind the safety of a glassed building. I have seen the coverage of the police officer in the that room, and not only did he do nothing, he did not even help the women once someone opened the door, which he could have done at any time. The SJPD sat and watched other people laugh and film her on camera. And then to top it all off, your Police Chief and the Mayor blamed her.

      This was not a bad cop hopped up on test, filled with rage and racism and the union circling the wagons. This was the whole enchilada, the Chief, the Mayor, the entire SJPD, all of San Jose pilled on. It disgraced the entire country really. I moved three months later to Asia.

      Any officer in the rank and file that day should understand what happened last week is an extension of what happen in June 2016. Last week, you did one better. You allowed these same subversives to trick you into giving them a public beat down during a police brutality protest. Of course, you did so beyond their wildest imagination. No matter what you do, Ms Wadsworth and other local “journalists”, the progressives in City Council, SV De-bug, Cartwright, all of them are going to re-humiliate the SJPD over and over until they get the progressive utopia they dream of. Your bosses will submit for sure, don’t be surprised if you do as well, this type of psychological warfare is very effective.

      I have seen a lot of feet washing lately. You see the difference between John 13 and last weekend is Jesus is our Redeemer and Shepherd and washing the feet of His disciples was a beautiful symbol of the duty of a leader to care for his sheep. When they get you to wash their feet, they won’t see you as their redeemer, leader, or worthy of any respect. They will laugh and bloat with lust in their power to humiliate you for the third time.

      I feel for you though, it seems you are really trying to get this right. But you can’t, San Jose was lost in June 2016. The people running things now don’t want this fixed, they want it broken. Because wanting this fixed and back to normal is their definition of white supremacy. And the people who live there have either fallen in line or already think that too.

    • I truly appreciate your words and measured tone, as well as the assistance you offered Mr. Baca. I know you have a difficult job, and I respect you coming here to have a dialogue. I will try to be respectful over what is an emotional issue.

      The question that jumps out to me after reading your post is, do you feel the force used against Alex Baca was necessary for the public safety? You talk about people throwing projectiles and ducking back into the crowd, but that doesn’t explain the violence Alex Baca, or the officer who shoved a female bicyclist to the ground, or the officers who didn’t correct Jared Yuen’s behavior. When I watch the footage, I don’t see the all-out projectile assault on officers that I have heard described by Captain Dwyer and yourself, but I do see video after video of SJPD using unnecessary force against protestors. I have heard Sam Liccardo use the word “provocative” numerous times in reference to the actions of the protestors. I see the police we the ones who were extremely provocative, at pretty much the worst time and place imaginable, and I haven’t heard the mayor or the chief answer to that fact, I have only heard doubling down.

      As for the rubber bullets, it seems clear from
      video that SJPD chose to fire into crowds of peaceful protestors in response to water bottles being thrown at them. Whether they were shooting indiscriminately or had a target and those targets just kept ducking behind innocent people, I think it’s a bad idea to shoot into crowds of mostly innocent protestors against police brutality with rubber bullets.

      • Two Sense: I’ll do my best to address your questions/concerns.

        1: “ Do you feel the force used against Alex Baca was necessary for the public safety?”

        I encourage everyone to watch the overhead helicopter video again. It took me about 5-6 times to really grasp what happened in regards to Mr Baca. (Approx 2:50 on the ABC7 video). At that point where he approached the police, it had been declared an unlawful assembly and a dispersal order had been given. That means it was legally no longer a peaceful assembly. Hence, anyone who was continuing to engage in said unlawful assembly was breaking the law. 409 CA Penal Code – Participating in a Riot/Rout.

        Mr Baca approached the line of officers, who were giving non-stop commands to “get back” “move” “leave the area” and got right in their faces, with his hands up, one hand holding a cellphone. He got his cellphone within inches of a police officers face before the police officer used his riot baton to shove Baca back. Is that reasonable? Did Baca have a legal right to be where he was (present at an unlawful assembly and refusing to disperse) AND approach an officer while jamming a cellphone in his face? Could that have been a distraction to the officers and presented an officers safety concern? Once the officer used his baton to push Baca back, Baca started swinging at the cops multiple times. And what did the cops do? They used their batons and fists to bring him to the ground & take him into custody. Did it look pretty? Nope. Will hitting someone with a stick ever look pretty? Nope. Do I think that the force applied given the totality of the circumstances was appropriate? Yes. Do I empathize with Baca getting his knee busted and regretting being in that situation? Yes I do. What should the Police Officers have done? Look at the background beyond him when this is going on. It’s a RIOT!! I would put the blame of individual actions on those individuals to accept personal responsibility for what they did. That includes the Police Officers. Some will be determined to be justified, some will not.

        2: “The officers who didn’t correct Jared Yuen’s behavior.”

        Time and place. In the middle of a riot on a skirmish line might not be the best arena to stop, divert your attention from the mob, and have a philosophical discussion on the power of words. Yuen got put on blast, they posted all of his personal information on the Internet, Internal Affairs is aware, he’s off the streets… it’s being dealt with. I couldn’t hear anything while it was going on. The noise was overwhelming.

        3: “ When I watch the footage, I don’t see the all-out projectile assault on officers that I have heard described by Captain Dwyer and yourself.”

        Watch the video again. The ABC7 video around the 2:15 mark. They aren’t throwing just water bottles, most were frozen water bottles. There is a significant difference there. Like great bodily injury different. All those little dots on E Santa Clara St are rocks, pieces of pavers, bricks and other objects that could severely hurt or kill someone if they were hit with them. I know, I was there. I picked them up and tried to hide them from being used again and again.

        4: “Nothing has changed since Rodney King.”
        This is completely false and disingenuous. We are constant changing laws and policy. We will change policy after this incident.

        It sounds as if you were not there, and you’re passing judgement on the split second actions of the officers based on second or third hand information, videos (edited or not) and other sources of information. I understand that it looks ugly; show me the pretty riot…

        I was there. It’s was chaos. You might think it only showed SJPD engaging “peaceful protesters” with less lethal projectiles but remember, we have Body Worn Cameras that are pointed out at everyone else. Is it possible that some don’t want to make public all the illegal actions of the rioters? Yes. Were most of the cameras facing the police? Yes. SJPD will conduct an investigation into the Use of Force. What happens if Baca is found guilty of assault on an officer? Would that change your perspective? Should we find out? Maybe he’s been through enough and airing his legal issues should be kept private. Maybe the District Attorneys Office won’t press charges “in the interest of justice”.. that’s there prerogative. Maybe he pleas to a lesser charge but he/his attorney still sues the PD/City for excessive use of force. I would never besmirch the good name of lawyers, but even a bad lawyer can convince a jury that a ham sandwich is partially the fault of the pig in a Civil Rights case.

        For those of you voicing support for police and thanking me for my service, thank you. We appreciate those words more than you know. I encourage everyone to be part of the solution. Get engaged with your community, talk to your council members, get to know your cops and have a dialogue about change that’s reasonable and appropriate. We will change because of this. You are all invited to come be part of the solution.

        • I appreciate the detailed response, and I can see the logic in your analysis of the specific situation involving Mr. Baca. You make some good points, but what you characterize as a “push” looked to me like a strike to the throat, and not the example of the ‘considerable restraint’ I had heard described. I think if a real push had been used I would fully agree with your analysis.

          I understand that you were there and I was not, and I believe you when you tell me that at a certain point there was chaos, but I would disagree if you think that means that you’re better equipped than I am to know who instigated that chaos. You yourself say it took you a few minutes to figure out what had happened with Mr. Baca, even though that specific situation was unfolding pretty close to where you were located. I understand why – you only have one set of eyes, and it was a situation that probably demanded alertness in many directions. However, in large crowds our perception is limited – this is a point I heard SJPD making in the days after May 29 in response to those protesters who said that they had witnessed the crowd as being entirely peaceful. The same is true for the perceptions of every officer of the SJPD, and in order to answer a really big question that has such a wide confluence of factors, such as ‘Did SJPD’s interactions with the public significantly contribute to causing the riot,’ we can’t rely on our anecdotal perceptual experience.

          If anything, I wonder if your anecdotal experience, especially being collected in from a non-neutral perspective (you do come across as very reasonable, but you ultimately see this incident through the eyes of a participant, and I feel your characterization of the strike against Mr. Baca as a ‘push’ is reflective of that bias), actually makes you less equipped to judge the situation, because you are biased toward confirming the experience as you understood it on the ground.

  5. Jenn, how many people did you interview before you chose your latest poster children? Did you mention to them, as you did to us in another thread, that you “grew up”in the Balkans during the Wars there? Did you mention to your poster kids that if you are in a war zone, or a civilian riot, you are likely to suffer injury?

    Ms. Conteras’ father urged her and her sister to go home when things started to get dicey. She chose to ignore her father’s good advice, as children often do. And besides, she’s a psych major, so we all know she lives in a different world than the rest of us. She suffered the consequences of not listening to her father’s good advice, then found your ear to whine about it.

    I really get Mr. Ruiz’s plight, because as a college student hitchhiking around western Europe’and the British Isles one summer I found myself in a pub in Dublin with some blokes I had just met at the youth hostel. One of the locals started harassing one of the kids from the hostel. Inrealized the kid was about to get his butt kicked by the local, so I stepped in and told the local he should leave the kid alone. We were all invited by the publican to settle it outside. We did. I got knocked on my butt by one of the locals. None of the usual preliminary shoving we see in the US, just a right hook to my jaw. As I was getting up to return the favor, we all heard police sirens, and we were all in the wind immediately. I learned a valuable lesson—don’t stick your nose where it doesn’t belong to help out some poor schmuck you don’t know. If it’s a friend or relative, that’s a different story. Now Mr. Ruiz has learned the same lesson I did as a naive college youth. The best lessons in life are often painful, but they are the ones we remember most fervently.
    I understand Captain Dwyer’s reasoning when he said that the number one duty of the cops is to protect themselves, because if they go down, who is going to control the rioters? But I disagree. They did not swear to protect and serve themselves first. They swore to protect and serve the public. Dwyer’s kind of thinking is what allowed the Milwaukee rioters to burn the Third Precinct police station to the ground. Your #1 job is to protect the public, Captain.
    Mr. Sanderlin of all people should know not to stand in the line of fire in a riot situation once the cops have started firing.
    Mr. Baca is even more stupid. He walked right up to cops who he knew were firing rounds into the crowd. What did he expect would happen, he’d get a high five and a chorus of Kumbaya from the officers? He’s even dumber than I was in Dublin all those decades ago. Jenn, you should know that there is no legal requirement to read a person his Miranda rights until he is in custody and about to be questioned. Baca’s friends who called him an idiot and said he should have known better got it right, as did Ms. Contreras’ father.
    I sympathize with your injured poster children, but I do not empathize with them. Each made a bad choice under the circumstances, and paid the price. It’s on each of them.
    I also hope Captain Dwyer comes to realize whose lives it his #1 duty to protect.

    Have you, or do you intend to, interview any cops who were injured? Oh, sorry. That would involved putting out a balanced story about the police who help keep you safe, something you will never be accused of.

    • JMO: “Your #1 job is to protect the public, Captain.” Nope, please check facts and court decisions.

      Law enforcement has no such duty. Remember the 1992 LA riots. LAPD and LAFD retreated from Koreatown leaving armed residents to fend for themselves. And they did. From rooftops, building entryways, and their businesses / homes.

      Net result: KT suffered minimal damage while the surrounding area was a burned out perimeter for years. As I recall some rioters were wounded, but no fatalities.

      Where armed citizens (black, white, other) maintain a presence, the outcome is much better for everyone than when police are involved. Again, check the facts.

      Still unsure what options are available for SJ business owners. An armed society is a polite society.

      • So then, why do so many have “protect and serve” on their cars. Are they just messing with us?


  6. What? there’s nothing wrong in this, why the block?

    Officer, first thank you for your service, I am sure you have seen a lot and been through a lot in your years serving San Jose. Reading your post it is clear to me you are trying to work your way through this and try to understand.
    But I think you have missed something important. And I think you know in back of your mind what is going on because you referenced the Trump Rally. It was not that you didn’t do enough at the Trump Rally to protect its citizens from a mob lying in wait. The San Jose Police lost its honor, its charter at the Trump Rally in June 2016, it lost everything that night really. You allowed a young blond women wearing Red White and Blue to be cornered, taunted, degraded, and then “egged” by a mob of fighting age men. The SJPD watched the events from behind the safety of a glassed building. I have seen the coverage of the police officer in the that room, and not only did he do nothing, he did not even help the women once someone opened the door, which he could have done at any time. The SJPD sat and watched other people laugh and film her on camera. And then to top it all off, your Police Chief and the Mayor blamed her.
    This was not a bad cop hopped up on test, filled with rage and racism and the union circling the wagons. This was the whole enchilada, the Chief, the Mayor, the entire SJPD, all of San Jose pilled on. It disgraced the entire country really. I moved three months later to Asia.
    Any officer in the rank and file that day should understand what happened last week is an extension of what happen in June 2016. Last week, you did one better. You allowed these same subversives to trick you into giving them a public beat down during a police brutality protest. Of course, you did so beyond their wildest imagination. No matter what you do, Ms Wadsworth and other local “journalists”, the progressives in City Council, SV De-bug, Cartwright, all of them are going to re-humiliate the SJPD over and over until they get the progressive utopia they dream of. Your bosses will submit for sure, don’t be surprised if you do as well, this type of psychological warfare is very effective.
    I have seen a lot of feet washing lately. You see the difference between John 13 and last weekend is Jesus is our Redeemer and Shepherd and washing the feet of His disciples was a beautiful symbol of the duty of a leader to care for his sheep. When they get you to wash their feet, they won’t see you as their redeemer, leader, or worthy of any respect. They will laugh and bloat with lust in their power to humiliate you for the third time.
    I feel for you though, it seems you are really trying to get this right. But you can’t, San Jose was lost in June 2016. The people running things now don’t want this fixed, they want it broken. Because wanting things fixed and back to normal is their definition of white privilege. And the people who live there have either fallen in line or believe that too.

  7. I was at the protests for desert storm. We burned candles and melted wax on the sidewalk until sjpd said stop. We banged bongos until sjpd said stop. Then one day they brought in pressure washers to clean up the mess and we all went home.

    I was also at the protests for Rodney king in San Jose. We talked a lot of crap to the cops, but we kept our distance, a good 30 feet or more. The cops started moving towards us, party was over, we went home. Nobody threw things at them.

    This situation is a completely different story.

    • It’s a different story because it’s been 30 years since Rodney King and nothing has changed. Sounds like you don’t see what’s outrageous about that.

      • > Sounds like you don’t see what’s outrageous about that.

        What I find outrageous is history has proven peaceful protest has been the best course of social change, MLK, Ghandi, all the way back to Jesus. Not sure how throwing projectiles, spitting on police, setting things on fire, smashing out civilian windows is going to change that. THAT is outrageous, and possibly even indicative of this generation that seeks to erase and sometimes even re-write history because they’re too afraid of getting their feelings hurt.

        Your grandparents did more to change society in 10 years than yours has done in 30 without resorting to tactics of violence, intimidation, fear and destruction.

        • My grandfather walked precincts for Goldwater, but glad you can feel that he’s morally superior to me just for living in a time when people were quieter about racial injustice.

          • I’m listening to my mother in law talk to my wife right now. She was a 60’s hippie, she lived in NY and went to Woodstock. She’s been a lifelong Democrat. She’s 70, retired on a good pension, never missed a vote, and always voted blue.

            She’s so disgusted by what has happened. I’m listening to her say how proud she was of Sam Liccardo and SJPD for using tear gas, and quelling the riot before it got out of hand. She’s saying she’s proud of Sam Liccardo for standing up to keeping the police funded. She’s talking about Seattle, and how disgusting it is that now the folks that have taken over those 6 square blocks have weapons, are patting people down, and demanding protection money from businesses.

            Someone that I never would have thought I’d hear, “Trump might be the only one that can fix this, if Biden get’s in it will just get worse” is saying that.

            I’m not a Trump supporter by a long shot, but I’ve been saying this ever since the very first Trump Rally riots, you guys are doing it wrong. You won’t change anything doing this. If my MIL is going to vote Trump, you can bet that many other pensioners will be doing the same. All this tantrum rioting is just going to result in getting nothing.

          • Robert, if your mother-in-law truly has the compassion for other human beings that might characterize a “hippy” and can’t recognize that Trump is the one who has divided this country – probably is the reason why police officers feel so comfortable brutalizing protesters – then there’s nothing I can do to reasonably convince her. I’m not an activist or a protester, I never attended these protests in SJ against police, but I can tell you that I have the zeal of a convert on this issue because I went from assuming SJPD was in the right to watching enough video and hearing enough stories to change my mind. This latest story about them arresting this SJSU professor on baseless grounds and holding him beyond their lawful ability to do so is a perfect example that they are more out to get the protesters than anything else.

  8. Thank you, Officer Buyers Remorse, for your courage and service to our City. I have a young adult child that lives close to where some of the “protesting,” vandalism and looting occurred. She was fearful for her safety, even though she was locked in her apartment. She told me how happy she and her neighbors were when lines of San Jose Police cars and Sheriffs showed up to quell the violence.

    Mr. Sullivan, you see, we are part of the silent majority that obeys laws, works hard and strives to provide good lives for our children. Life is hard. Life is unfair. I am glad the police are there even though I hate getting the occasional speeding ticket because they allow us meek people to live our lives without being brutalized by aggressive thugs that have nothing but contempt for any kind of authority, whether it’s behind a badge or their manager at work (if even they have a meaningful job). We pay our taxes and really have no idea where that money goes, and I now think more should go to the police.

    I believe most of us regular people are sensible enough to heed the voice of law enforcement authority after one warning if the situation even presented itself. To remain after being ordered to disperse is nonsensical and indicates a kind of depravity and blood lust for chaos that actually manifested itself in the recent “protests.” I hope you find peace, Mr. Sullivan. And, thank you again Officer Buyers Remorse.

  9. Gosh I’m impressed where the hell was this mighty PD when hundreds of Trump supporters were being mauled by a mob Mexican flag waving peaceful protesters 4 years ago?

    • Thanks for the link, Outside.
      How sad. Lauracouc didn’t think to bring enough tofu to last the entire takeover, so she is crying out for someone to save her rancid bacon by bringing her free food. She’ll be really upset if she doesn’t get a participation ribbon when the weak Seattle Mayor and PD finally clear out these idiots. F***ing millennial morons. They cannot run a small occupation, yet they tell us they know how to run the entire country better.

  10. Thank you for your Service SJPD ????
    Officer Buyers Remorse: Thank you for your thoughtful responses. It is clear you hold yourself to a very high moral standard and we appreciate you giving us a lense into the violent riots that took place downtown. Keep being great, SJPD! ??‍♀️??‍♀️??‍♀️??‍♂️??‍♂️

  11. I spent some down time just surfing around the local scene — real and virtual — to see where people’s heads were on all the tumult.

    Two things jump out:

    1. The protests were a premier example of a “pseudo event”: a free-floating, suspended in time and space, “disturbance in the force” with very little past, and no future. A “bad cop” killed a six-times imprisoned career criminal over a grudge from a past gig. No one denies that the killing was a bad thing. No one thinks it should have happened. How many times, how much oxygen has to be consumed by people repeating over and over what everybody knows, agrees upon, and can do nothing about? It was a pseudo event unconnected to any other events. Like the murders of 18 people in Chicago in one weekend. No connection.

    2. The overwhelmingly repetitious and largely mindless commentary and sentimentality confirms that a large segment of humanity exists in a “univariate” world. One variable explains everything: race.

    Racism. Racism. Racism. Systemic racism. Institutional racism. White racism. Systemic racism. Unacknowledged racism. Systemic racism. Pervasive racism. Systemic racism. Oh, and did I mention systemic racism? I may have left that one out.

    No other causes. Only one problem. Only one solution. Fix racism. Problem solved.

    So, what does this tell us? Have we learned anything? Are there any lessons we can apply so this doesn’t happen again? And we don’t have to go through this all over again?

    No.

    Successful behavior is repeated. And for too many people, the tumult, the anguish, the chaos, the mindlessness and the repetition were all things to be DESIRED!

    The activists got NOTICED! People responded to their screeds and their harangues. THEY were the LEADERS!

    Go back to your homes. There’s nothing more to see.

    NOT!

    In the minds of the “activists” there’s plenty more that they want us to see. Starting with . . . . THEMSELVES!

    Racism. Racism. Racism. Protest. Protest. Protest. Confront. Confront. Confront. It’s the NEW normal if the “activists” have anything to say about it.

  12. > Someone that I never would have thought I’d hear, “Trump might be the only one that can fix this, if Biden get’s in it will just get worse” is saying that.

    KA-BOOM! ! !

    Heads exploding.

  13. > “Trump might be the only one that can fix this, if Biden get’s in it will just get worse”

    I was in the basement listening to a clandestine radio broadcast on the shortwave.

    According to well-placed informants, the Trump campaign has received 800,000 requests for tickets to the Tulsa, Oklahoma Trump rally this weekend. The arena has space for 20,000.

    Expect a wave of coronavirus infections.

    Seek safety in urban areas run by Democrats. Crowd together, wear masks, and practice social distancing.

    • I am not sure how “Crowd together…and practice social distancing” go together in the same sentence.
      It seems to be in the same oxymoronic position as allegedly peaceful protesters chanting “no justice, no peace!!!”.

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