Former Police Officer Accused of Excessive Force

March 3, 2008 8:40:00 AM PST
A judge has unsealed once secret grand jury testimony that led to criminal charges against a former Fresno Police Officer.Marcus Tafoya is accused of using excessive force almost three years ago.

Friday is the first time the public had a chance to view the grand jury testimony.

More than a dozen witnesses testified in secret against Marcus Tafoya.

He was eventually indicted.

His troubles stem from March 2005 when he responded to a house party.

All the witnesses agree an argument erupted outside this Central Fresno home.

Former police officer Marcus Tafoya was one of the first on scene.

Court transcripts indicate a man by the name of Gabriel Rodriguez was inside.

Rodriguez testified Tafoya barged in the home and started swinging his baton.

Gabriel Michael Rodriguez: "There was blood with the first hit that covered my face I buckled down to the floor and I just remember getting hit repeatedly."

Tafoya plead not guilty to beating five people at the party.

Several officers also responded.

Three made damaging statements against Tafoya.

Officer Steven Flick testified Tafoya suddenly struck a man with his baton.

Officer Steven Flick: "I was speechless I didn't understand why he would strike him in the face."

Officer Eloy Escareno testified Tafoya kicked another man.

Prosecutor: "Did you see whether or not there was any reason in your judgment for Officer Tafoya to be kicking this individual?"

Officer Eloy Escareno: "No."

Tafoya's defense attorney Marshall Hodgkins declined to comment about the allegations.

Hodgekins fought to keep this testimony a secret.

A judge denied the request.

Within these documents more officers said Tafoya was widely known for explosive behavior.

Officer Brent Willey: "I would say that he has a serious anger management problem. That he is highly abrasive and inappropriate."

Prosecutor: "Have you had occasion to observe Officer Tafoya use force on a person that you felt was unjustified by the situation?"

Brent Willey: "Yes, I do."

In the past Tafoya's attorney denied the allegations.

Tafoya returns to court in April.

The Fresno Police Department declined to comment saying the case is still under investigation.


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