Crash First, Ask Questions Later

Notorious Anaheim cop Scott McManus resurfaces in yet another civil-rights lawsuit

Alleging that a police officer would do something as reckless as intentionally ram a motorist he suspects of being a drug dealer solely on the basis of tinted windows, then lie about it, might seem like a stretch. But given that the cop is McManus, it’s not as surprising as you’d think. On Feb. 20, 2003, he shot an unarmed IBM technician named Jeffrey Santelli in the parking lot of Garden Grove’s Crystal Cathedral.

Santelli had driven there to give his mother, an employee of the church, some money so she could attend a birthday party. While talking to his mom, Santelli heard a shout and turned around to see “a stranger wearing shorts and shirt” standing next to an SUV. That stranger, McManus, allegedly dropped to his knee and shot Santelli in the stomach. After the incident, police officials told the press that McManus had followed Santelli because he was driving erratically and had shot him in self-defense.

By that time, McManus already had a string of excessive-force complaints on his record. In 1997, he allegedly pounded a suspect’s face to the concrete, hit him on the back of his head and fractured his jaw—then charged the suspect with assault on a police officer. The victim, Fernando Ortiz, claimed in a civil-rights lawsuit that McManus beat him up because he was enraged Ortiz had been given drug diversion after McManus previously arrested him for marijuana possession. The city of Anaheim admitted no wrongdoing by McManus but settled Ortiz’s lawsuit for $90,000.

In the previous year, McManus racked up three complaints, including one involving a victim of domestic violence who called police only to have McManus and another cop throw her on her bed, twist her arm behind her back and attempt to arrest her before realizing their mistake. In that case, the police department sent the woman an apology saying an “unspecified disciplinary action had been taken.”

Remarking on that and other incidents involving McManus, Santelli’s attorney, Marc Block, told the Weekly seven years ago that unless McManus was fired, he’d continue to screw up. “This is what comes back eventually to bite the city,” he argued (see “Have Badge, Will Skate,” May 9, 2003). “After you start getting more incidents, they’ve got to do something . . . like get rid of him. It’s time this guy had a change of career.”

nschou@ocweekly.com

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1 comments
smaugusta
smaugusta

Attorneys settle these cases allowing cities to "admit no guilt" for a price. I understand this is a business for these private attorneys. Not going to trial and getting a guilty verdict on charges of excessive force is part of the reason cops like McManus get to keep their jobs. Police chiefs and city managers are protecting their own jobs when they automatically defend police. They can't turn around and fire them after a settlement. This process needs to be fixed. We need to understand the problems first.

 
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