Riverside police officers did not use unreasonable force when responding to a Jan. 5, 2015, traffic collision, a jury ruled March 8.
The Calhoun family notified police when their car was hit by a drunken driver on Riverside’s JFK drive, and their 12-year-old daughter needed medical attention. The police involvement resulted in a broken knee and four arrests.
After police officers Juan Munoz and Gavin Lucero arrived, they arrested two members of the family, Tyesha and Taletha Calhoun.
The Calhouns argued that the police escalated the situation and used unnecessary force. The verdict clears the names of the officers who were also falsely accused of racial slurs by the plaintiffs.
Riverside Assistant City Attorney Rebecca McKee-Reimbold said an abundance of footage recorded by the Calhoun family showed that the officers used proper force. Upon arrival, the police found out that Tyesha’s license had been revoked and told the Calhouns that their vehicle would have to be towed, along with the drunken driver’s.
About 10 other members of the Calhoun family arrived, and began recording.
“The cellphone footage was very helpful for us to achieve the defense verdict,” said McKee-Reimbold. The footage obtained proves that Tyesha attempted to start the car and drive away, instead of trying to grab her bag, as the complaint claims.
Jamar Calhoun, another member of the family, began escalating the situation and was arrested for interfering with police business, McKee-Reimbold said. Tyesha became angry with the officers for arresting Jamar, and was arrested on the same charge. While resisting arrest, she was engaged in what McKee-Reimbold called a tug of war between her and the officer that caused her knee fracture.
The complaint claimed that during the arrest, Munoz hit Tyesha three times in the face. When Tyzjon Calhoun, Tyesha’s son, told Munoz to stop, the officer threatened to shoot him, the complaint said.
Tayesha, Taletha, Jamar were all arrested. Tayesha pleaded guilty to driving on a suspended license and all three pleaded out to disturbing the peace.
The March 7 amended complaint brought charges of battery, civil rights violations, negligence and assault. Riverside Superior Judge Chad Firetag allowed the plaintiffs to submit their last minute amended complaint to change Tyzjon’s claim from assault to battery. The jury decided that none of the officer’s actions, including the threat to shoot, were unreasonable.
After the case was filed, Tyesha went on ABC and told the network viewers that the officers had called her racial slurs. That claim was disproved by the video evidence, McKee-Reimbold said. During the trial, McKee-Reimbold juxtaposed Tyesha’s statements to ABC with the footage of the event to highlight the discrepancies in her story.
It took eight years for the case to be resolved. It was elevated to federal court before being kicked back down to Riverside, where it was further delayed by the pandemic.
“For the officers, they wanted to clear their names,” McKee-Reimbold said.
Jamon Hicks of Douglas Hicks Law represented the Calhouns.
Case No. RIC1825970
Read the complaint here.