ROHNERT PARK (BCN) — A Rohnert Park man filed a violation of free speech lawsuit against the City of Rohnert Park and an armed Department of Public Safety Officer who confronted him outside his home in July.
Plaintiff Don McComas recorded the confrontation on his phone with Officer Davis Rodriguez in the driveway of his Hermitage Way home on July 29.
The civil rights violation lawsuit filed this month in U.S. District Court in San Francisco alleges Rodriguez threatened McComas with a firearm for exercising his right to record police activity, and the City of Rohnert Park sanctioned and authorized Rodriguez’s actions.
The suit states McComas began recording Rodriguez’s patrol car as it drove around his neighborhood and stopped with the engine running in front of his driveway.
As McComas continued recording, Rodriguez rolled down a window of his patrol car and aimed a camera at McComas, according to the suit.
When Rodriguez got out of the car he placed his hand on his firearm, walked toward McComas and told him to take his hand out of his pocket, the suit alleges.
McComas tells the officer he hasn’t done anything, Rodriguez removes his gun from its holster and holds it in a ready position as he walks toward McComas, according to the suit.
McComas removes his hand from his pocket and places the items in it on his own vehicle, but Rodriguez advances toward McComas in a threatening manner with his gun drawn, according to the suit.
McComas tells Rodriguez again he hasn’t done anything and he asks Rodriguez why he got out of his car, the suit states.
Rodriguez, still armed, replies, “You are taking a picture of me, I am taking a picture of you,” according to the suit.
Rohnert Park officials said an independent investigation by an attorney and private investigator determined Rodriguez was in the neighborhood looking for parking code violations and he was checking a vehicle’s registration when he saw McComas on the sidewalk.
Rodriguez decided to investigate McComas’ suspicious behavior of ducking behind a truck when he saw the patrol car.
The investigation determined Rodriguez “reasonably exercised his right to stop and have contact with the resident and did so for legitimate reasons and not for the purpose of harassing or mistreating the resident.”
The investigation also stated it was reasonable for Rodriguez to un-holster his weapon because McComas was agitated and refused to comply with an order to remove his hand from his pocket which had a bulge in it.
Rohnert Park City Manager Darren Jenkins did not return a call for comment on the lawsuit this afternoon.
The suit requests compensatory and exemplary damages, attorney fees, the cost of the suit and other relief the court deems appropriate.