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ORIGINAL POST, SEPTEMBER 3, 10:18 P.M.: Later today, in an Orange County Superior Court courtroom, Anaheim City Council candidate Steve Lodge is going to face off against longtime Anaheim activist Cynthia Ward over whether Lodge can use his paternal birth name “Chavez” on his ballot designation. I'm not going to be able to make it this afternoon to Central Court, which sucks because I certainly hope Ward wipes that shit-eating grin off Lodge's face for good. Go, Cynthia!
(Quick aside: you know who Esteban looks like? Steve Newlin, that crazy minister-turned-gay vampire in True Blood. Resemblance is EERIE…)
I will be at Central Court, though, digging up old court cases that will probably prove what's already true: that during a career as a SanTana police officer, a career that Lodge is running on as proof that he's worthy of representing a city in which he's lived all of a bit more than a year, Lodge was a dirty cop.
The dirty cop label ain't the charges of anti-police “radicals” that Lodge loves to disparage on his Facebook account (the one with the URL “stevenalodge” but labeled “Steven Chavez Lodge”) but rather pronouncements of the Santa Ana Police Department and a federal jury.
Let's take the first one first. In 1993, SanTana bar owner Elba Freeman sued the SanTana Police Department in federal court because she alleged that officers harassed her, her bar, and her patrons after she filed a complaint against an officer. The cop in question? Lodge. Freeman (who's still a bar owner in the city) said that in 1985, Lodge “pushed her and used foul language during a routine bar check,” according to a Los Angeles Times account, which also noted Lodge “served a four-hour suspension for the incident.“
BUSTED. But Freeman ended up losing her case, along with an appeal to the U.S. Ninth District Court of Appeals. Lodge wasn't as lucky, however, with a case involving a jaywalking Iranian immigrant that made national headlines.
In 1990, Hossein Farahani sued Lodge in U.S. federal court alleging police brutality. Farahani had jaywalked across Fourth Street in SanTana, much to Lodge's irritation. He turned on the siren; Farahani ran and tried to hide behind a wall. And the rest is horrifying. From an Orange County Register story at the time:
When Farahani realized that Lodge saw him in his hiding place, [Farahani's lawyer] told the jury, he stood and walked toward Lodge, making gestures of surrender.
Then the trouble began, [the lawyer] said, beginning with Lodge ordering Farahani to put his hands on a nearby car for a search, but then throwing him to the ground. As Farahani raised an arm to show Lodge some identification, [the lawyer] said, the police officer grabbed the arm and dropped to his knees on Farahani's back.
He handcuffed Farahani tightly and, when Farahani tried to turn his head to look back at Lodge, clubbed him with his baton, [Farahani's lawyer] told the jury. Another officer, Joe Perez, arrived a few moments later and kicked Farahani.
Farahani suffered a ruptured disc and a wound from the baton that required eight stitches.
Lodge's excuse for the beating? Farahani resisted. Oh, and he never hit him with a baton. That owie on Farahani's head, the one a pathologist said under oath probably came from a baton? Just got there. PATHETIC!
Thankfully, a jury didn't agree with Lodge, and found in Farahani's favor, rewarding him a whopping $612,000 settlement. “People laugh when I say for jaywalking they beat me up,” Farahani told reporters after the verdict. “It's not funny. Everybody can be beaten by them. They
Lodge and his attorney vowed to appeal, but that didn't happen–instead, they settled with Farahani for $292,000 and dropped the appeal.
These aren't the only lawsuits filed against Lodge alleging excessive force–two others were filed against him in the 1990s. We're checking on those cases as you read this and will update the post once we've learned more–in the meanwhile, spread the word: Anaheim council candidate Steve Lodge is a dirty cop who's the last person deserving of leading the city during these fraught times.
Oh, and in all these lawsuits? Lodge is referred to as “Steven Lodge,” NOT “Steven Chavez Lodge.” Pinche pendejo…
UPDATE, Sept. 4, 3:24 P.M.: Well, as James Brown sang so long ago, ain't that a groove.
Two other lawsuits alleging police brutality by Lodge were filed during the 1990s–in 1991, and 1997. And no records of them exist other than than the Register of Actions listed on the Orange County Superior Court website. Workers there say both of the cases were destroyed; calls to one attorney found the same; the other is dead.
All we have is the names of Lodge's alleged victims–in 1991, it was one John Ellis; in 1997, it was Araceli Orozco and Esperanza Velasquez. The latter case was eventually dismissed after an unknown ruling–all I can ascertain is that Velasquez and Orozco had no prior criminal record, or were criminals in Orange County, so this wasn't a case of cholos trying to harass Lodge, as his apologists are already trying to dismiss his known indiscretions listed earlier.
Ellis' case seems more interesting–something about a "special filing.”