Former Paso Robles police officer, city sued over force

SLO woman says she was held against ‘scorching asphalt’ by police officer

nwilson@thetribunenews.comAugust 3, 2012 

Claiming she received severe burns from being pressed into sweltering pavement by a former Paso Robles Police Department officer two years ago, a San Luis Obispo woman has filed a federal lawsuit against the city and the officer, who has been mired in other controversies in recent months.

Rodi’a Monterroso-Bragg, 23, filed a lawsuit July 18 in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles against former police officer Jeffry Bromby.

Monterroso-Bragg claims that Bromby used excessive force, in violation of her constitutional rights, during her arrest on July 30, 2010.

She was suspected of shoplifting a $2.99 bottle of juice from Scolari’s Market in Paso Robles about 2 p.m. when the outside temperature was about 93 degrees.

Monterroso-Bragg alleges Bromby held her against “scorching asphalt” for nearly 21⁄2 minutes during the arrest.

Bromby has been at the center of other controversies with the department.

Those include accusations he made that the city imposed ticket quotas on police officers. Bromby also was charged criminally with unlawfully accessing department records, but the District Attorney’s Office dismissed that case for insufficient evidence.

The lawsuit — which represents one side of the story — also names the city of Paso Robles and top leaders, including City Manager Jim App and former police Chief Lisa Solomon.

Bromby said Friday he hasn’t been served with Monterroso-Bragg’s lawsuit and wouldn’t comment about it. Paso Robles City Attorney Iris Yang said the city has no comment at this time about the litigation.

A video and audio recording device captured the arrest. The lawsuit cites Bromby telling her at the scene that “maybe now you will learn.”

One of Monterroso-Bragg’s two San Luis Obispo attorneys, David Vogel, said that she had no shoes after a confrontation with store security officers and was trying to retrieve her footwear when Bromby threw her to the ground.

“He’s punishing her, and that’s not the role of a police officer,” Vogel said in a telephone interview Tuesday. “Punishment is reserved for judges and juries to impose.”

Monterroso-Bragg was convicted of misdemeanor theft and disturbing the peace in San Luis Obispo Superior Court after a no-contest plea in the months following the incident.

In the video, Bromby claims she was trying to bite him. But Vogel counters that Bromby’s forearm was pushed into Monterroso-Bragg’s face and teeth.

A woman at the scene said Monterroso-Bragg was combative, but Vogel also disputes that.

“(Monterroso-Bragg) begged defendant Bromby to stop, telling him that the ground was too hot as she received excruciating burns to her left arm and burns to her hands and her right arm,” the lawsuit claims.

Bromby resigned from the department on July 30, 2011, for undisclosed reasons, according to the lawsuit. App told The Tribune the city can’t comment on the reason Bromby’s employment ended but he confirmed Bromby left on that day. Bromby had been employed by the department since 2007.

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