SAN DIEGO - A San Diego man claims in a civil lawsuit that he was beaten and sexually assaulted by two San Diego police officers who were looking for drugs.
Officers found the drugs, but it's where they found them that has Kenneth Simmons claiming he was "subjected to multiple and unlawful cavity searches."
Officers Kyle Williams and Carlos Robles saw Simmons May 17, 2014, in Memorial Park, as they told a group of men to leave because it was after 10 p.m. and the park was closed. Both officers wrote in police reports that they followed Simmons, who was riding a bicycle, because they wanted to tell him it's illegal to ride at night without a light.
The officers say that as they pulled their patrol car close to Simmons he began to peddle away rapidly. The officers say he kept on going even after they called out "police" and asked him to stop.
Simmons claims he was wearing headphones and didn't hear the officer's commands.
"I never looked back," he is quoted as saying in the police report. "I could not hear you yelling at me. I knew that I had rocks on me. I only knew that you were the police when we were fighting."
Williams got out of the car and caught Simmons, pulling him to the ground, which is when the fight began.
Simmons had two knives, and officers can be heard on the body cam video telling him several times to "stop resisting." The officers say Simmons reached for one of his knives.
Simmons was handcuffed, and as Robles led him to the patrol car, another struggle broke out -- this one was partially witnessed by Simmons' girlfriend, Denise Phillips.
Phillips said, "I was angry. I was saddened by it because I knew he couldn't have done anything possibly to be treated that way. Just seeing his face, not being able to do anything about it, it was hurtful."
After Robles told Phillips to stay back, she began recording some of the scuffle on her cellphone.
"His pants were already down here," she said, pointing to her knees. "His underwear were already in a deep wedgie. One of the officers had his gloves on and he already had his hand like near his crack area, so to me it was already happening." The "it" Phillips was referring to was an anal cavity search.
Both videos clearly show the officers trying to search Simmons. Throughout the police body cam video, the officers are heard asking whether Simmons had drugs.
"Where'd your dope go?" Williams is heard asking.
Minutes later Robles is heard saying, "I think he shoved it in his a**."
Police reports say the baggie of cocaine rocks was found in Simmons' right front pocket, but he claims he had hidden them in his rectum. His civil lawsuit alleges he was subjected to "multiple and unlawful cavity searches" and that the officers provided "false testimony" in an effort to get a conviction.
Simmons was charged with possession of a controlled substance, resisting an officer and use of a deadly weapon in a fight.
After seeing the video and hearing testimony from the officers, a jury found him not guilty of resisting and weapons charges. The jury was undecided on the drug charge, and that charge was later dropped.
"You can't have situations where the police are targeting people and doing strip searches on the side of the street," said Peter Carr, an attorney hired by Al Sharpton's National Action Network to represent Simmons.
Carr called what happened to Simmons unacceptable, and his lawsuit brings into question the training practices of San Diego police.
"Is this in fact rogue officers who are just doing things, or is this a departmental thing and is this something that the police department is actually sanctioning?" Carr said.
Lt. Scott Wahl issued the following statement on behalf of SDPD:
"This body camera video, when played in its entirety, shows an individual resisting police officers and taking measures to discard the rock cocaine he was carrying. The officers' actions prevented him from escaping, from destroying the evidence, and from using one of the two knives he had in his possession. Keep in mind the context of the situation. This person failed to stop when lawfully ordered by a police officer. He resisted arrest when he was caught. He had two knives and rock cocaine in his possession. There are parts of this video that are not pleasant to watch but the video clearly shows no cavity search was conducted and there was no sexual assault. If this case proceeds, all of the facts and all of the evidence, including the full video, will be presented in court."
The San Diego City Attorney's Office, who will handle the civil case, would only say through its spokesman, "We will defend the City."
Simmons was not interviewed for this report because he is back in jail on a series of misdemeanor drug offenses.
His attorney said he hopes to get Simmons into a drug treatment program when he's released. #Copwatch #SanDiego #FilmThePolice