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Ceres police face brutality complaints

CERES — Several college students claim police breaking up a birthday party dragged women out of the house by their hair and used a Taser gun on a man, then sprayed him with pepper when he was handcuffed.

Ceres police paint a different picture of the events early last month: that the partiers cursed at them, used obscene gestures and did not disburse when ordered.

Last week, the Stanislaus County district attorney’s office charged seven of the party-goers with 32 counts — including two felonies — ranging from resisting arrest, public intoxication, violence against a peace officer and inciting a riot.

Complaints from the party-goers have launched an internal investigation by the Ceres Police Division. Those who witnessed the officers’ actions also have filed a complaint with the county civil grand jury, and asked the City Council on Monday night to form an independent committee to investigate the accusations. They pointed out that two of the seven officers who responded to the house party call have histories of confrontations with citizens.

The actions have caused irreparable damage to those arrested and witnesses, who say they no longer trust police officers and view them as “modern-day Nazis,” according to one complaint submitted to police.