Hemet police release footage of traffic stop that led to lawsuit alleging excessive force – San Bernardino Sun

A traffic stop police said was over tinted windows and a missing front license plate last year in Hemet broke down into a physical altercation in which one of three plaintiffs in a recently filed civil rights lawsuit is taken to the ground and an officer is bitten by a dog, as seen in footage captured that evening.

A tense traffic stop

The events leading up to the encounter began March 31, 2021, when members of a gang task force saw Ryan Gadison, 33, in a car with tinted windows that was missing its front license plate along the 600 block of North Girard Street, Hemet Police Chief Eddie Pust said in a video published on YouTube almost one year later, on Monday, March 14. They stopped him in front of a house on the 1900 block of East Oakland Avenue at about 8 p.m.

Mariah Hereford, 29, displays a mark left from an abrasion that she claims was sustained in a physical struggle with Hemet police on March 31, 2021. She and her relatives sued the city and the police department alleging excessive force. (Photo courtesy of Toni Jaramilla)

That’s where Gadison planned to have dinner with his fianceé, Mariah Hereford, 29, and her mother, Monett Hereford, 54, said Toni Jaramilla. She is an attorney representing them in a lawsuit alleging excessive force that was filed against Hemet and its police department on March 3.

Police said Gadison began honking his car’s horn immediately after pulling over, and didn’t stop until Mariah and Monett Hereford came out of their home. The two of them used their cell phones to record the traffic stop.

An officer asked the women to back away, and accused them of “obstruction.” They refused to leave. They appeared to be standing in their driveway, near the hood of Gadison’s car, in a video released by their attorneys.

At about the same time, an officer is heard in body-worn camera footage telling Gadison he appears “amped” and “nervous.” The man sitting in the stopped vehicle referenced “stereotypes” involving interactions between law enforcement and people of color during their conversation, and told police “you’re not going to violate my rights.”

“Well if that’s your stereotype, then that’s your prerogative, you know what I mean,”  the officer said.

“That’s America,” Gadison replied.

Ryan Gadison, 33, calls out to his fiancee and her mother while stepping out of his vehicle during a traffic stop by Hemet police on March 31, 2021. The situation led to physical struggles between the three of them and officers that was the subject of a lawsuit filed against the city and its police department. The plaintiffs alleged excessive force and the violation of their civil rights. (Image courtesy of the Hemet Police Department)


Gadison said he had done nothing wrong and insisted his driver’s license was valid after officers told him it was suspended. He asked them to double check their information and requested to speak with a police sergeant. Officers refused to contact a superior.

The motorist declined to give police permission to search his vehicle as he gets out of it and is handcuffed. He told his relatives to lock his car as he was led away from its driver side door.

An officer returned to the side of the vehicle, where Monett Hereford is seen filming with her phone. He tells her to “back up” twice. She does not leave.

“You’re hurting my shoulder … I haven’t done anything,” she said as the officer proceeded to hold her against the side of Gadison’s car and place handcuffs on her. He tells her to “stop resisting.”

Meanwhile, Mariah Hereford is heard asking police if they had a search warrant moments before they struggle with her in an attempt to obtain the keys to Gadison’s car. During the exchange, a dog is seen biting an officer on the upper left leg.

One officer kicks the animal and holds the back of its neck to gain control of it. Another continues to struggle with Mariah Hereford.

“I have no one in the house for my kids,” Mariah Hereford screams while in tears as officers bring her to the ground and detain her. She also tells them she doesn’t have the keys to the car.

Mariah Hereford claims she suffered an abrasion to her head during the altercation. The dog bite an officer sustained while searching for Gadison’s keys punctured his skin and left a small, tooth-sized tear above his knee, police said.

Hemet police detain Ryan Gadison, 33, during a traffic stop in Hemet on March 31, 2021. A physical struggle between him, his fiancee, her mother and police took place that evening, resulting in a lawsuit alleging excessive force. (Photo courtesy of Toni Jaramilla)

Police and plaintiffs weighing in

Pust noted that officers were not obligated to contact their superiors at Gadison’s request because he was being placed “under arrest,” although officers are heard saying he is being “detained,” and do not notify him of his right to remain silent. The police chief also said officers did not know whether anything dangerous might have been in Gadison’s car as they were asking his fianceé and her mother to back away from the vehicle.

A spokesman for the Hemet Police Department declined to specify whether anything illegal or hazardous was in Gadison’s car, pending the processing of a public records request previously submitted by The Press-Enterprise.

Jaramilla claimed there was nothing in Gadison’s car that would have justified his treatment by officers. She accused police of using minor vehicle code violations as a pretext in an attempt to search the property of her client, a Black man with no criminal history in Riverside County other than a pair of speeding tickets.

A Hemet police officer was bitten by a dog during a physical altercation with the fiancee of a driver who was pulled over for tinted windows and a missing front license plate on March 31, 2021. Her mother as well as the driver also struggled with officers. They have sued Hemet and its police department, alleging excessive force. (Photo courtesy of the Hemet Police Department)

The plaintiffs attorney also said Gadison genuinely believed his license was valid at the time and is seen questioning the officer’s instructions, but does get out of the vehicle when asked. She went on to note that police have discretion in how they respond to minor violations, and questioned whether it was necessary to detain him over a suspended license.

The investigation into the matter was ongoing. Police and the City of Hemet had not filed a formal response to the suit filed against them as of Wednesday.

Staff writer Brian Rokos contributed to this story.

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