Saturday, September 23, 2023

Police Bodycam Footage Emerges of Ukiah Police Tasering, Pepper-Spraying, and Applying ‘Distraction Strikes’ on Naked Man


On April 1, 2021, Ukiah Police Department’s use-of-force practices came under scrutiny after footage emerged of the tasing, pepper-spraying, and striking of a naked man. Officers were responding to reports of a naked man, later identified as Geraldo Magdaleno, acting erratically and running along the roadway. The proceeding events were documented via bystanders but now, nearly nine months later, footage from a body camera worn by the officer who initially contacted Magdaleno has come to light.

The bodycam footage shows an officer driving into a parking lot of 1400 block of South State Street with the nude Magdaleno in full view. Upon exiting the patrol vehicle, the UPD officer began ordering the nude Magdaleno on the ground. The officer continued to approach Magdaleno and then drew his taser and continued ordering him to “get on the ground.”

From getting out of the patrol vehicle to the first deployment of the taser, there was a total of 26 seconds. In that half-a-minute, the officer repeatedly, with few breaks in between or changes in delivery, ordered Magdaleno on the ground. 

Warning: Nudity and Police Violence

Magdaleno’s face and physicality were surprisingly non-plussed at the presence of the officer, at points, staring away from the officer. His affect was flat and the only time before the first deployment of the taser he changed his location was pivoting and walking laterally from the officer. 

When the officer deploys the taser, Magdaleno seized up and fell backward, and for just a moment was dazed on the ground, and then stood back up.

When he arose, the officer deployed pepper spray. Magdaleno outstretched his hand to block the stream of pepper spray, and once again, displayed very little signs of discomfort or pain.

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For approximately two minutes, the officer continued the “get on the ground” refrain while Magdaleno continued to not show any obvious signs he was trying to intimidate the officer or make any gestures of aggression towards the officer. Magdaleno seems somewhat dazed, and in the context of information from his family that he suffers from schizophrenia and was intoxicated on LSD, could be disassociated as a result of his mental illness. Though there are no obvious physical signs of resistance, it is clear Magdaleno was not obeying the officer’s command to “get on the ground.”

Gerardo Magdaleno [Mugshot from the Mendocino County Sheriff’s Booking Logs]

At about the three-minute mark, another officer appeared off-camera, and the officer first on scene tells him, “Zap him. I already hit him once.” A second taser is deployed, and ance again, Magdaleno seized up and fell to the ground. From that point, the distraction strikes begin.

In a press release from the Ukiah Police Department soon after the incident, the punches Magdaleno experienced were described as “distraction strikes” explaining, “The Officers then attempted to gain compliance by delivering numerous distraction strikes to the suspect’s head. This allowed the Officers a brief opportunity to place Magdaleno into handcuffs, and then the technique was ceased.”

Magdaleno was in the scrum of three separate officers before they are able to successfully handcuff him. By the time the immediate physical force was complete, multiple UPD officers had arrived as well as Mendocino County Sheriff deputies. 

Law enforcement and emergency personnel are obviously attempting to make sense of the circumstance and placing Magdaleno in a full-body restraint. 

A review of the Ukiah Police Department’s Policy Manual describes multiple factors used to determine the reasonableness of force. The following factors could shed light on the appropriateness of the use of force in the circumstance depicted in the bodycam footage: 

  • “The apparent immediacy and severity of the threat to officers or others”
  • “The effects of suspected drugs or alcohol”
  • “The individual’s apparent mental state or capacity”
  • “Proximity of weapons or dangerous improvised devices”
  • “Whether the person appears to be resisting, attempting to evade arrest by flight, or is attacking the officer.”

Francisco Magdaleno, Geraldo’s brother, told us that when the incident occurred there were “no children or people around. He was not doing anything. He was not hurting anyone. He did not deserve what they did to him.”

Reaching out to Ukiah Police Department Lieutenant Andrew Phillips, he told us that due to the fact the use of force incident is involved with ongoing litigation, he could not provide comment at this time. 

We reached out to Magdaleno’s defense attorney, Izaak D. Schwaiger, but have yet to hear back.

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In the days preceding the incident, then UPD Chief Justin Wyatt promised the community a full investigation of the use of force. In his video address, Chief Wyatt said the department was taking the community’s reaction “very seriously” and promised a “full and independent investigation into this manner and this department will participate fully in that investigation.”

Protestors gathered to express their frustration with what they perceived as an excessive use of force

The day after the incident approximately fifteen Mendocino County residents gathered at noon in Ukiah in protest of what demonstrators saw as a case of excessive use of force

Ukiah Police Department has navigated multiple controversies over the last year including firing UPD Sergeant Kevin Murray who stands accused of two separate incidents of sexual violence. Those charges include a November 2020 incident of sexual battery, burglary, and drug possession and the second set of charges was filed one month later accusing Murray of rape and forcible oral copulation in 2014. Also, associated with Kevin Murray, an ex-female UPD officer is suing the department for a sustained sexual harassment campaign she claims to have faced from both Murray and others in the department.

Despite promises from both UPD and the Ukiah City Council to investigate the April 2021 use of force, no conclusions or follow-up have been provided.

Previous Coverage

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  1. What are the results of the so-called outside independent investigation that the city of Ukiah commissioned? It is a public record, and needs to see the light of day.

    • Let’s face it: there are but two ways and only two ways only to rectify this event. First, when a large, Hispanic man with neck tattoos that, may or may not, signify strong, gang affiliations appears naked on the streets of Ukiah after ingesting LSD or other behavioral transforming drugs that elicite violent inclinations, the only thing to do at this point is to call Mike Geniella to instigate an immediate “independent investigation” to determine how to proceed with the crazy, naked man. Two: pass a law in Ukiah that allows aggressive, naked people high on drugs to freely roam the streets. It’s only fair and common practice in San Francisco. People of Mendocino: remember, sentiments of virtue trump law and order any day of the week.

      • This is not about a tattooed, mentally ill naked man roaming around in public, this is about the use of excessive force. Magdaleno was clearly in the wrong. It is not ok for a mentally ill, tattooed naked man high on drugs to wander around in public, as well as any man or woman. The issue here is about the use of excessive force by Police.

      • Dear Veronica and you too, Joe. Resisting arrest is aggression. Wandering naked in a road is aggression to on-coming drivers. Neck tattoos? Common insignia for Mexican crime gangs. “May or may not.” For those who have problems with meaning and English, it means (as written) that our wandering naked man with selfish disregard for others, could or could not be a member of a street gang. My guess is that he did not get those tattoos to apply for the police academy or a job in local government. (not yet, anyhow) Increasingly, the streets of Ukiah are becoming a city wide play pen for self-pleasuring drunks and druggies who have absolutely no regard for others; especially woman, children and the elderly. Civilization disappears one naked man at a time roaming the streets on LSD. Down in Mexico, even before the police arrived, able bodied men would have removed this person from the streets; perhaps, never to be seen again. In Ukiah, progressive, able bodied men imagine ways for naked men to sue the police.

    • Mr. J.M. Thanks for what you do! But for the grace of God….there go I. Circumstances alone can drive a person to this mental state. Don’t think it can’t happen to you. Life [CAN] break you enough. Then have a little [☠️] to make it all better …but it doesn’t, it makes everything waaay worse! I’m going to step out on a limb here and say if you’re not part of the solution, you’re part of the problem. Come down off your pedestal before it’s you or one of your loved ones.

  2. Shocked and sickened by watching what happens when “people” lose their humanity! There’s NO excuse for this. None. 🤮

    Apologies to him and his family.

  3. Apologies to the police officers involved who had to deal w this naked asshole to keep the public safe. The officers should be able to Sue for their injuries and emotional trauma. Only in America will Biden and the rest of the liberal commies try to compensate this criminal.

  4. It becomes perfectly clear when a person is naked that they are unarmed. So why didn’t these big tough cops overpower the naked man and subdue him? Because that would require touching a naked person? Maybe catch cooties? Tasers and pepper spray? If cops are not trained to take down an unarmed person without using a weapon then they tend to shoot them with something. Cops need better training to be better cops.

      • Grace Hudson school is at 251Jefferson Ln. this event happened on The 1400 block of State Street. I don’t remember if school was even in session when this happened?Because of the pandemic. I would be more concerned about my kids seeing a butt ton of law enforcement beating the life out of ONE naked man on the ground than the naked man on the ground. Had I been in the vicinity I would have stopped and given him a blanket or shirt to wrap up in while he waited the police to come and beat him to a pulp. I feel like seeing So many police officers gang pummeling a human being on the cement in the middle of town would be way more traumatizing to my children then seeing somebody in their birthday suit.

      • Why, if you want to be percise, Grace Hudson Elementary School is exactley behind the “coffee lady” located at 1610 South State Street. This event took place at 1450 South State Street, just barely over a block away. The school’s address and enterance may be on Jefferson, but its grounds are only feet away from South State Street.

  5. Situations like this is where a mental health expert would have played a valuable role in handling this situation. Police Officers are not trained to deal with mentally ill people. Some Police departments are considering, or have already implemented such resources, and UPD should follow suit.

  6. nothing like watching a bunch of fragile white cops beat on brown people to the sultry power ballads of kuki….. way to go upd!!! you just made an honest country music video!!

    • Checked out the “wrap” and yeah great product we should definitely get some! And, Because school is being mentioned as an issue at the time of this event took place I have to ask, does anybody remember whether school was closed because of the pandemic at the time this event took place? I feel like it was but don’t quote me on that I don’t really remember.

  7. I am usually a law and order dude. However, there are several facts that become very apparent in the video. First, he may have been in the road before the police car arrived, but he definitely wasn’t in the street in this video. Second, it seems that the police officer who was driving the car with the dash cam launched into punching the suspect without assessing the situation. Without a doubt, Ukiah police officers could use some more training on submission techniques.

  8. Why, if you want to be percise, Grace Hudson Elementary School is exactley behind the “coffee lady” located at 1610 South State Street. This event took place at 1450 South State Street, just barely over a block away. The school’s address and enterance may be on Jefferson, but its grounds are only feet away from South State Street.

  9. What I don’t understand is why the cop even tased him and pepper sprayed him in the first place. The guy had no weapon. Is the cop just a pussy. Wasn’t he trained at the Academy in 50 different ways to whip your ass? He needs to go back to the Academy and learn some hand-to-hand combat and pressure point restraint maneuvers. I could’ve handled that guy and I weigh 160 pounds. Maybe it was just because he’s naked and he didn’t wanna get near him. Lol.

  10. It’s all racial. In the very beginning, the cop says to dispatch ‘We got an illegal’… and proceeded to unleash his hatred. He was lovin’ it.

  11. Today I watch the video again I haven’t seen it for obviously over a year or two. I cannot believe how the police department acted every single one got out of their cars and just started beating the shit out of this man kicking and punching every single one. Did you see how many cops there were there? Unbelievable what a bunch of bullshit those guys should be fired.

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Matt LaFever
Matt LaFeverhttps://mendofever.com/
I like to think of myself as a reporter for the Average Joe. Journalism has become a craft defined largely by city dwellers on America's coasts. It’s time to take it back. I have been an Emerald Triangle resident since 2006 and this is year ten in Mendocino County. Please, email me at matthewplafever@gmail.com if you know a story that needs to be told.

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