Coercion by Police to Obtain False Confessions - Adamson Ahdoot

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Police Coercion for False Confessions in California

June 24, 2024 María López Garcia
Home » Blog » Police Coercion for False Confessions in California

Police Coerce Man to Confess to a Crime that Never Happened; Fontana Pays the Victim $900K in Damages

The behavior of law enforcement officers in California has resulted in numerous cases of police misconduct. Many of these stories involve police pursuits, negligence, corrupt cops, lethal use of Tasers, or police dog bites. However, the most controversial incidents in recent months have to do with coercion by police.

Several California police departments are under scrutiny by the media and the public. The reason is the negligent methods some officers use to interrogate suspects. One of the most shocking cases of cop misconduct recently occurred in Fontana. The city paid nearly $900K for the psychological torture officers inflicted on a suspect during a 17-hour interrogation to extract false confessions. The video below is undoubtedly heartbreaking.

If at any time you can relate to any of the statements presented on this page, we urge you to contact us. We can help you get the justice and compensation you deserve. Don’t be intimidated, file a lawsuit against the police today. Call us at (800) 310-1606 or submit your request online.

Read on to learn more about examples of police misconduct, such as wrongful arrest or coercion, and how to sue a police department for negligence.

As a constitutional violation of civil rights, police coercion is a violation of personal freedom. It occurs when police use physical or psychological violence against a person to force them to engage in a particular action against their will. This usually results in a coerced confession that leads to a false arrest.

Examples of Police Coercion: The Case of Perez Jr.

It all started when Tomas Perez Jr. called the police to report his 71-year-old father missing. Perez Jr. told them that his father had gone for a night walk with the dog, and a few minutes later, the animal returned home alone. The incident happened in August 2018.

The story, based on what happened later, seemed discredited to the officers. The investigators, who did not believe the version, took Perez Jr. to the Fontana police station for a thorough investigation.

In all, they spent more than 17 hours in the interrogation room with no incriminating evidence. According to the detectives, they wanted to know “the truth” because they had reason to be suspicious of Perez Jr.

From the beginning of the interrogation, Fontana police were determined to get Perez Jr. to confess to killing his father. No matter what the cost. To that end, detectives assured the suspect that his father was dead and “already wearing a toe tag at the morgue. Perez Jr. told officers he did not remember killing anyone, which police said could be because his mind was blocking out disturbing memories.

Meanwhile, Perez Jr. tried to get the investigators to give him his blood pressure, depression, and stress medications. But the detectives refused at every turn.

After a few hours, the officers began using more ruthless methods.

17 Hours of Psychological Torture by Police Detectives Led to False Murder Confession

To add pressure, the officers threatened to euthanize Perez Jr.’s dog because it was a stray. They even brought the animal into the interrogation room so that Perez Jr. could say goodbye.

As he lay on the floor of the room with the dog, the detectives continued their persuasive methods. “How can you sit there, how can you sit there and say you don’t know what happened, and your dog is sitting there looking at you, knowing that you killed your dad?” one of the agents said. After a while, they came back with a blunt statement: “Your dog is gone now, forget it.

The police threatened to kill Perez Jr.'s dog by coercion.

As investigators urged him to confess to the crime, Perez Jr. began pulling out his hair, hitting himself, and tearing his shirt.

After saying goodbye to the dog, Perez Jr. broke down and confessed to the murder. He claimed to have stabbed his father with a pair of scissors.

As a result of his emotional distress, Perez Jr. attempted suicide with his shoelace. This led to him spending 72 hours under observation in a psychiatric hospital.

Perez Jr.’s Father Was at the Airport

The level of cruelty increased when the officers learned that Perez Jr.’s father was alive. His daughter called to assure them that she had purchased a plane ticket for her father to travel to Northern California and that he was currently at LAX waiting to board. Although the homicide theory had been ruled out, detectives did not tell Perez Jr. at the time.

According to court documents, investigators noticed suspicious signs about Perez Jr. They stated that he appeared “distracted and unconcerned” during the 911 call and that the father’s wallet and phone were still in the house when they arrived. They also observed that the house was in disarray and had blood stains. Perez Jr. testified that they were doing renovations and that the drops of blood came from his father, who has diabetes and had a finger prick test.

Is Police Coercion Considered Police Misconduct?

Understanding what constitutes coercion is essential to filing a lawsuit against the police for negligent conduct. It is important to note that when a victim suffers from coercion by a law enforcement officer, they are experiencing police misconduct. Coercion by police occurs when an agent puts undue pressure on a suspect to admit involvement in a crime.

At Adamson Ahdoot, we have witnessed police tactics and strategies that violate human rights. These techniques are primarily based on obtaining results under extreme pressure, using harsh physical and psychological methods. Coercion often results in confessions obtained as a result of oppressive police conduct. Thus, these statements are not voluntary and usually result in false arrest or illegal detention.

That is what happened to Perez Jr. in one of the most recent and serious cases of police misconduct in California. The detectives used unorthodox procedures to convince him to confess to something he had not done. In other words, to make a false confession.

The extreme interrogation procedures used by the Fontana police led the officers to inflict unconstitutional psychological torture. These questioning tactics are a crime that leads to subjective confusion and disorientation, causing victims of police coercion to make false statements.

Police Misconduct Statistics

  • Of the nearly 62 million Americans of legal age who had contact with police in 2018, 1.3 million experienced cop threats or police abuse. Men were more likely than women to experience police brutality.
  • Minors are more vulnerable to coercive police tactics.
  • African Americans or Hispanics are twice as likely to be victims of police threats or use of force.
  • Fifteen percent of victims who suffer threats by cops get injured.
  • The Innocence Project estimates that 29% of wrongful arrests result in false confessions due to police coercion.
  • 84% of police officers say they have witnessed a fellow agent being negligent or abusive. This was either through excessive use of force or threats.
Police using police brutality during an interrogation.

Types of Police Coercion

Coercion by the police occurs when they use pressure or intimidation to obtain a confession or other action from the suspect. Typically, the suspect will admit to participating in a crime.

It is also important to recognize that not all false confessions are the result of police coercion. They are false when a person, either because of police abuse or on their own initiative, admits responsibility for a crime they did not commit. Although suffering from a mental disorder or trying to attract attention can be reasons for a false confession, police coercion is usually the most common cause.

What are the most prevalent coercive police tactics? There are a number of intrusive interrogation methods and practices that lead to police brutality:

  • Abuse of power and authority
  • Physical violence
  • Lies and falsifications
  • Abusive emotional manipulation, such as psychological torture
  • Threats of harm to the individual or their family

What Coercive Police Tactics Did Perez Jr. Suffer?

From the previous list of interrogation techniques, Perez Jr. was subjected to three of the above. These were intended to persuade him to make a false confession, resulting in an unlawful arrest.

First, Perez Jr. was lied to and falsely told that his father was dead and in the morgue.

Second, they threatened to kill his dog if he didn’t confess.

Finally, he was pressured for 17 hours to confess to killing his father. To do this, they psychologically tortured him and drove the victim to attempt suicide. The sum of all this had a single purpose: to force the suspect to make a false confession or statement.

Perez Jr. rips off his shirt after police coercion over his father's death.

To that end, they harassed, intimidated, and exhausted him to the point where Perez Jr. admitted to a crime he did not commit. He simply wanted the police to stop harassing him.

How to Sue a Police Department for Coercion or False Arrest 

When victims experience coercion by the police, they suffer a violation of their civil rights. But, who investigates police misconduct?

Victims of police misconduct have the right to seek justice by filing a lawsuit against the officer or police department. However, the legal process is different from any other type of accident in California. Pursuing a suit for physical or mental injury in a police coercion case should be handled by an experienced attorney. Especially because of the statute of limitations for suing public employees under California law.

Unfortunately, in cases of police misconduct, the only way for victims to sue the perpetrators is through a qualified lawyer. Hiring an attorney is the only way for a victim of police abuse to get a satisfactory settlement.

Call the #1 Police Misconduct Lawyers in California

Did you suffer from police misconduct in California? Hire the best lawyers against police negligence at Adamson Ahdoot. With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our bilingual law firm is capable of getting you the compensation and justice you deserve.

Don’t be afraid to report police harassment, abuse, brutality, or cops violating your rights. Call us today at (800) 310-1606 for a free consultation, or submit your inquiry online. We are available 24/7.

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