A big wave surfer is suing the California Department of Parks and Recreation after he says two park rangers used excessive force on him during a beach collision and injured his shoulder, preventing him from surfing.
Sean Rhodes, owner of Nor Cal Surf Shop in Pacific Ocean and has built a career in big wave surfing, leaves Four Mile Beach with his off-leash dog Yoda on August 12, 2020. Two guards approached him and asked why Yoda was not on a leash, according to the complaint filed on January 23.
Rhodes told them he would bring Yoda once he got to the top of the hill, but the rangers “knocked” him to the ground and one used “martial arts techniques” on him, the complaint said.
The ranger also “inexplicably pushed” him several times, the complaint said.
A spokesperson for the California Department of Parks and Recreation told McClatchy News in a statement that the agency does not comment on pending litigation.
The rangers used “excessive force,” the lawsuit says
Rhodes told McClatchy News that he was “shocked” during the incident.
“I’ve been going there since I was 12 years old,” he said of Four Mile Beach, located in Wilder Ranch State Park in the Santa Cruz area. “It’s known as a place where people can take their dogs.”
At one point during the incident, one of the rangers forcefully pulled Rhodes’ arm “as far behind his back as possible” to handcuff him, the complaint said.
He told them his shoulders were hurting, but they didn’t stop, the complaint says. When the ranger arrived, Rhodes heard one of the rangers tell him she grabbed Rhodes because he “wasn’t listening,” the complaint states.
The rangers then placed Rhodes in the back of a law enforcement vehicle without a seat belt and drove him to the hospital, intermittently accelerating, causing him to “fly through the back seat of the vehicle,” according to the complaint.
Rhodes was charged with resisting arrest, but the charge was dismissed on Aug. 10, 2022, according to the complaint.
The lawsuit says the rangers used excessive force and violated Rhodes’ civil rights.
“It took away the ability to do what I love.”
Rhodes told McClatchy News that the shoulder injury has negatively affected his ability to surf.
“She hurt my shoulder,” he said of one of the rangers. “It was a painful situation for surfing.”
He said the doctors told him his shoulder was 65% torn. Shoulder strength and mobility are important to surfing, and the injury prevented him from doing what he loves, he said.
“I can’t jump fast, which means I can’t do what I’ve spent my whole life doing,” he said.
Rhodes has dedicated his career to surfing, especially big waves. He was surfing at Mavericks, an area about 20 miles south of San Francisco that Surfer Today said known for waves which can rise to the height of residential buildings and are among the deadliest in the world.
“It’s pretty much my whole life,” he said of surfing. “My kids surf. I come from a surfing family. This is my whole life.”
He surfed three to five times a week, he said. Now he has been gone for several months. Doctors told him he would need shoulder surgery in a few years.
“It’s a terrible atmosphere for the next couple of years, and I’ve already dealt with it for the last two years,” he said. “It took away the ability to do what I love.”
I am looking for justice
In addition to seeking an unspecified amount in damages, including lost wages and medical expenses, Rhodes said he also hopes to prevent similar incidents in the future with the lawsuit.
“I feel that someday I have to do something and stand up for people’s rights,” he said.
One of his lawyers, Latif Gray of the civil rights law firm Pointer & Buelna, said the actions of the wardens are an example of wrongdoing by law enforcement agencies in the US
“Something minor, a minor violation can turn into something serious where someone can be seriously injured or lose their life,” he told McClatchy News. “I don’t think we have the law enforcement for that — to turn something minor into something like this.”
Gray said he hopes law enforcement officers in jurisdictions across the country can get more training on how to peacefully de-escalate a situation so civilians don’t get hurt or killed during interactions with officers.
“We want them to have a better relationship with the community, the members they serve,” he said. “We want them to do better. There is no reason that Mr. Rhodes should be treated the way he was and should be treated the way he was treated.”
Rangers tackle surfer who was let off leash by dog: California lawsuit
Source link Rangers tackle surfer who was let off leash by dog: California lawsuit