SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Disgraced Elk Grove Police officer Bryan Schmidt won’t see the inside of a state prison cell pending his completion of a year-long jail sentence and two years of formal probation.
If Schmidt doesn’t comply with his probation and commits another crime after being released from county jail, he will be brought to prison to serve out a five-year term for stomping a shoplifting suspect’s head into the pavement, according to a court spokesperson.
The short jail sentence was recommended by the prosecutor working the case, according to Chief Deputy District Attorney Rod Norgaard.
“Sentencing in California is very complex,” Norgaard said in a statement. “In this case, the prosecutor requested that the defendant serve 364 days in custody in county jail and the court sentenced the defendant to 364 days in custody in county jail.”
A county probation officer wrote in a report submitted to Judge Delbert Oros that the “nature, seriousness, and circumstances” of Schmidt’s actions warranted a jail sentence of one-year and six months in custody, with one year and six months on mandatory supervision.
Judge Oros also reviewed dozens of character letters, written by friends and family of Schmidt including children he coached at Three Gear Hitting, his baseball training program in El Dorado Hills. The letters were written in an effort to keep Schmidt out of custody – an effort that ultimately failed.
“Coach Bryan truly cares about us and always makes us feel good about ourselves and as a team,” one player in the eighth grade wrote. “He talks to me as a person, not just a kid.”
Schmidt was found guilty in March of felony battery and felony assault by a peace officer in relation to a 2019 arrest where he knocked a man, Juan Mendoza, unconscious following a shoplifting call.
Mendoza and a second man, Moses Maka, allegedly attempted to bring a cart full of items out of the Burlington Coat Factory without paying and began to fight loss prevention staff.
According to body-camera video released at the time, Schmidt approached Mendoza as he lied on the ground and stomped on his head with the sole of his left shoe, knocking him out against the pavement.
“Hey, this ain’t going to be a good day for you,” Schmidt said. “Hands out right now, get your hands out!”
Arrest warrant documents stated that Mendoza wasn’t complying with orders to put his hands out but was lying on the ground in a nonthreatening manner regardless.
Mendoza became violently ill in the police car and was later found to have developed chronic headaches, a bruise, and fluid on his brain. After his condition worsened, he was transported to a nearby hospital for emergency surgery on a blood clot near his brain.
Schmidt told investigators that Mendoza began moving his hands into his waistband while displaying a “very odd grin” and a “thousand-yard stare.” He wrote in a police report that he felt afraid for his safety and kicked Mendoza in the head to distract him.
Following the verdict, he told probation officers that he believed Mendoza carried a gun, but ultimately acknowledged that he used “too much force” and “made a poor decision.”
“In my heart of hearts, I thought Mr. Mendoza had a gun,” Schmidt said. “I thought I used reasonable force… I used too much force. I’m so sorry I did that.”
The City of Elk Grove settled a lawsuit brought by Mendoza out of court for $100,000 and Schmidt was fired as his charges were pending. During his trial, a judge granted EGPD Chief Timothy Albright’s request for a restraining order from Schmidt due to several threats he made.
According to court documents, Schmidt approached a former coworker as they dined with their family at a restaurant. He told the individual that Chief Albright “ruined” his life and promised to “beat him down.”
Two days later, he sent an “erratic” email to the Elk Grove City Council, according to city lawyer Suzanne Kennedy.
“Albright destroyed my life, I lived in my car for a month, I can’t see my girls regularly,” Schmidt allegedly wrote. “Why? All because Tim Albright wanted to hang a cop. Albright saw this as a political move to have me fire[d], arrested, and ultimately homeless.”
A separate criminal investigation into Schmidt’s threats has since been launched. Five witnesses have come forward and told authorities they overheard Schmidt making the threats, according to documents filed in support of the restraining order.