Jury finds former officer Schmidt guilty of excessive force

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Following a nine-day trial, a jury found former Elk Grove Police officer Bryan Schmidt guilty of two felonies for kicking a shoplifting suspect so hard in 2019 that he required surgery, the DA’s Office said in a statement Monday.

Schmidt’s charges of felony battery and felony assault by a peace officer stem from a chaotic 2019 arrest at the Burlington Coat Factory on Elk Grove Boulevard. He was picked up by deputies on an arrest warrant over a year after the initial altercation.

According to court documents and video released by the Elk Grove Police Department, Schmidt responded to a robbery call where Mendoza and another man, Moses Maka, tried to leave with a cart full of merchandise before fighting with loss prevention employees.

Schmidt arrived on scene after the fight was over and Mendoza was lowering himself onto the pavement outside of the store. After another officer directed his attention to detaining Maka, Schmidt switched off to Mendoza and began telling him to put his arms out “like an airplane”. Mendoza didn’t put his arms out but laid on the ground without moving.

“Hey, this ain’t going to be a good day for you,” Schmidt said. “Hands out right now, get your hands out!”

Schmidt then stomped onto Mendoza’s head with the sole of his left shoe, causing the man’s head to hit the concrete and knock him unconscious. When Mendoza was moved to the back of a patrol vehicle, he became violently ill and vomited multiple times.

Schmidt claimed that Mendoza placed his hands near his waistband and began moving them around while showing the officers “a very odd grin” and a “thousand-yard stare.” He wrote in a report that he felt afraid for his safety and that of the officers around him and kicked Mendoza in the head to distract him.

When detectives spoke with Mendoza, he told them he was “beat up by police” and had dried blood around his mouth, abrasions on his head, and a cut on his knee. While held in custody at the main jail, he began experiencing chronic headaches and was later diagnosed with a bruise and fluid on his brain at the San Joaquin General Hospital.

After receiving medication, the man’s headaches worsened, and he was transported back to the hospital for emergency surgery on a blood clot near his brain.

Following Schmidt’s conviction, outgoing District Attorney Anne Marie Schubert called the beating “a rare incident” where Schmidt “needlessly used excessive force causing serious injuries to an individual.”

Schmidt was fired and his supervisor, who was disciplined for not reporting the use of force, resigned. The City of Elk Grove settled a lawsuit brought by Mendoza out of court for $100,000. Schmidt returns to court in April for sentencing, where he could face a maximum term of four years behind bars.

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