Tracy fights police brutality lawsuit

Written by Aaron Rognstad
Thursday, 13 November 2008

City attorney says Tracy man who alleges police used excessive force when he was arrested last year has no case.

Tracy is defending itself against a lawsuit filed last December by a Tracy man who alleges police brutality.

Steve Allgoewer, 55, claims he was unlawfully arrested and that officers used excessive force that resulted in an injured thigh, a torn bicep and a left shoulder rotator cup injury.

The altercation happened on the front lawn of his 235 Dale O’Dell Drive home on June 18, 2007, around 5 p.m. as officers Nestor Mejia and Trevin Freitas were called by Allgoewer’s ex-wife, Leticia Vargas, who alleged that he was in violation of a court order regarding her and Allgoewer’s 6-year-old daughter, Annise.

Vargas told police he kidnapped Annise, Allgoewer said.

According to the lawsuit, the officers confronted Allgoewer, who had a metal gardening tool in his hand.

At one point, Allgoewer claims Mejia grabbed Allgoewer’s left arm and Freitas swept his leg and forced him to the ground. The lawsuit says Freitas grabbed Allgoewer’s left arm and put it across his back, and that Mejia put his knees on Allgoewer’s legs and Freitas ordered him to put his arms across his back.

Allgoewer claims Mejia then Tasered him twice, handcuffed him and placed him into custody.

Allgoewer claimed that he invited the officers into his house so that he could hand over Annise to them.

He said it was then that they jumped on him and stunned him six times because the officers felt threatened. He also claims police spliced and edited a video tape of the incident from a camera that he had stationed in his front yard and that he took a polygraph test to back up his claims surrounding the entire incident and passed.

“As soon as they heard that I was an ex-con they became very threatened,” Allgoewer said referring to six months he spent in prison for a drug charge in 1993. “They never mentioned at all of arresting me or taking my daughter. They lied through their teeth and charged me with a violent type of charge.”

Allgoewer said that his original charge of assaulting an officer was eventually dropped to resisting arrest.

Officers Mejia and Freitas were not available for comment.

Debra Corbett, attorney for the city of Tracy, said that a case management conference by phone was scheduled for December 4, which will be like a check-in date for Allgoewer’s lawyers and the city to update the case. Corbett said the next step will be a trial-setting conference, which could take months.

“We rejected his original claim because we don’t believe we have any liability,” said Corbett. “We’re going to aggressively defend this one.”

No additional comments were given by Corbett at this time.

Allgoewer is being represented by the Pacheco and Somera law firm in Stockton. His attorneys did not return a phone call.

•Contact Aaron Rognstad at 830-4221 or email aaronr@tracypress.com.

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