If 23-year-old Jazwan Orejel is right, aggressive City of Irvine police officers found him guilty of an imaginary offense: being black while sitting on a public park bench and minding his own business.
In a lawsuit filed this month inside Orange County’s Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, Orejel claims “hostile,” racially-motivated cops approached him on the afternoon of March 21, 2018.
He says he answered their questions before they handcuffed him, kicked him to the ground, repeatedly kneed him in the face and jumped on top of him, constricting his neck and hindering breathing.
“Mr. Orejel told the officers repeatedly that he suffers from [epileptic] seizures which cause involuntary movements and that he could not breathe,” the lawsuit states. “[He] is still mentally scarred from the incident and fears he is being susceptible, because of his race, to further unnecessary interactions with authorities in Irvine.”
The plaintiff reports he suffered “severe abrasion and lacerations” to his face, a lumbar muscle strain, a thoracic spine strain and damage to his shoulder because of the “assault.”
According to the filing, the cops had received a report of a black man wearing an orange cap, carrying tools and looking in vehicle windows in the area of the park.
Orejel says he didn’t have any tools and wasn’t wearing a cap.
The nine-count lawsuit asserts that the officers possessed unconstitutional, “evil motives” and that the plaintiff is entitled to economic damages, including for medical expenses and emotional distress.
Attorneys for the city have not yet filed a formal response.
U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna, a President George W. Bush appointee who has a propensity for siding with police in excessive force litigation, will preside.
Two percent of Irvine’s population is black.
R. Scott Moxley has won Journalist of the Year honors at the Los Angeles Press Club; been named Distinguished Journalist of the Year by the LA Society of Professional Journalists; and hailed by two New York Times Magazine writers for his “herculean job” exposing Southern California law enforcement corruption.