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Bruno Magana v. County of San Diego

December 19, 2011


The opinion of the court was delivered by: Irma E. Gonzalez, Chief Judge United States District Court


This is a civil rights action pursuant to 42 U.S.C. § 1983 brought by Bruno Magana for personal injuries and violation of constitutional rights by County of San Diego and its sheriff's deputies, Bogar Ortiz and Russell Ryan. Currently before the Court is Defendants' motion for summary judgment. For the reasons set forth below, the Court DENIES the motion.


This case arises from an incident at the Jumping Turtle nightclub on April 18, 2009. Magana was 17 years old at the time, 5'4" tall, and weighed 125 pounds. He was a high school student and worked at a pet store in Oceanside. He was also a musician.

I. Magana's version of the arrest

On April 18, 2009, at approximately 10:45 p.m., Magana was inside the Jumping Turtle nightclub attending a music show that permitted minors and adults alike. Magana's boss was the lead singer of the headliner band that was playing. Earlier in the evening, Magana had placed his jacket/sweatshirt on the stage while he was helping the band set up.

According to Magana, suddenly someone announced that the show was over and everyone had to leave. Magana was part of the large crowd that began moving toward the exit. He was also moving toward his jacket, which was still on the side of the stage. As Magana stepped toward his jacket, Deputy Ortiz suddenly confronted him and told him he had to leave. Magana said he just needed his jacket and picked it up off the stage. As he did so, Deputy Ortiz grabbed his arm and yanked it up, while Deputy Ryan rushed up and grabbed Magana around the neck. Both deputies then dragged Magana out the door, to a walkway outside the front door.

Once outside, the deputies allegedly shoved Magana against a wall, with Magana's face hitting the wall. Deputy Ryan then slammed Magana to the ground, face first, near the corner of the building. Magana's face hit the corner of the building, fracturing his nose and causing lacerations to his face. After Magana's face hit the ground, the deputies pulled his hands behind his back and handcuffed him. Magana alleges that by this time his face and head were bleeding profusely. While Magana was on the ground, Deputy Ryan continued choking him. Magana lost consciousness for some period of time. Magana was then walked/dragged to a police car by the deputies. At one point they stopped, and Deputy Ryan punched Magana in the face.

Magana was placed in a police car and taken to the San Marcos sheriff's station until his mother arrived to pick him up. He was released from custody at that time. His mother took him to the hospital immediately. There it was determined that Magana suffered a fractured nose and a concussion. Several stitches were required to close the cut on the bridge of his nose. The fractured nose required surgery, which was performed several days later.

II. Deputies' version of the arrest

Law enforcement officers arrived at the Jumping Turtle nightclub after the private security staff requested help dispersing the disorderly crowd. Although the officers were initially instructed to stand-by outside, they were eventually requested to enter the bar to make everyone leave. Many patrons were still inside the bar. Deputy Ortiz and Deputy Ryan positioned themselves near the stage and began instructing patrons to exit.

According to Deputy Ortiz, when he came in contact with Magana, he told Magana to exit the bar. Magana instead rushed at him and hit his left shoulder and back. Deputy Ortiz grabbed Magana's right arm and Deputy Ryan immediately grabbed his left arm. Deputy Ryan also put Magana in a headlock in an attempt to apply the carotid restraint and escort Magana out of the bar. Magana was allegedly thrashing about as he was being escorted out of the building.

Once outside, Magana allegedly refused to comply with the deputies' instructions to get on the ground, and as a result was taken to the ground when Deputy Ryan swept his legs. While falling, Magana hit his head against the fencing outside the bar. Once on the ground, Magana put his hands underneath him and continued to struggle. At one point, Deputy Ryan thought Magana was attempting to grab for his taser. As a result, Deputy Ryan shifted his weight and applied the carotid restraint, causing Magana to pass out for about three seconds. Magana was then handcuffed. The deputies then escorted Magana to the patrol car. While on their way to the vehicle, ...

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