by Ali Winston
When Kayvan Sabeghi tried to make his way home through the darkened, tear-gas-filled streets of downtown Oakland on the night of November 2, 2011, he had no idea that the next five days would be some of the most tortuous in his life. In an incident that was recorded on another person’s cellphone, the 33-year-old Army veteran was attacked and severely beaten by an Oakland Police officer identified in April by the Express as Frank Uu. Sabeghi suffered a serious rupture of his splenic vein while being held at North County jail, but was not hospitalized until eighteen hours later. Following the incident, Uu retired from OPD in March of this year.
The suit then claims that Sabeghi was tackled by Uu, Patterson, and other unnamed officers and then detained. While in North County Jail, Sabeghi was denied medical treatment by sheriff's deputies despite complaining of internal bleeding and severe pain, according to the suit. When Sabeghi began to vomit from the pain, “jail and medical personnel ridiculed plaintiff, accusing him of being a heroin addict,” the suit states.
The two other officers named in the suit are notable because of their histories and stature within OPD. Marcell Patterson is currently the secretary of the Oakland Police Officers' Association, and was one of the officers involved in the arrest of Jerry Amaro, an East Oakland man who was severely injured by Captain Ed Poulson during a drug sting in March 2000 and later died from his wounds. According to press accounts, Patterson told investigators that Poulson had asked himself and Officer Clifford Bunn to support his account when speaking to homicide investigators. Oakland paid $1.7 million to Amaro's family in 2011.
Sergeant Gonzales is a member of OPD's SWAT team, was in charge of a Tango team on October 25 and November 2 of last year during clashes with Occupy Oakland, and has been involved in four shootings during his career, including the fatal incidents involving Gary King Jr. and Lovelle Mixon. Gonzales is being sued for failing to supervise Uu — the officer was part of Gonzales' Tango Team, and the sergeant was nowhere present when Sabeghi was beaten. However, Gonzales did sign off on Uu's Use of Force report from the incident and did not file a complaint or flag Uu's actions as inappropriate.
The Sabeghi incident showed a “complete failure of supervision” of field officers by their immediate commanders, said Rachel Lederman, Sabeghi's attorney. Supervision of field officers is one of the tasks for which OPD has not been able to fulfill during the decade-long course of federal oversight, which is coming to a head in US District Court on December 13 when federal Judge Thelton Henderson could decided to place OPD under federal receivership.