Man files lawsuit against Fresno authorities after violent arrest is caught on body camera

FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- The video is jarring.

Richard Bernier took a kick to the face from an unknown person while a Fresno County Sheriff's deputy was on top of him making an arrest.

"It's very evident that at the point he was kicked in the head he was no longer a threat to authorities. It looked like there were at least two maybe three officers attending to him on the ground," said Kevin Little.

Little is Bernier's attorney in a federal excessive force lawsuit.

He says whatever happened before the kick doesn't matter, but body camera and dashcam video show a little more.

Bernier had run from police back in November 2017, and they arrested him near his own home.

In the video, his eye turned black before he even got booked in jail.

Little says Bernier bailed out and went to the hospital for treatment, and eventually got a notice that no charges would be filed.

But prosecutors did file a criminal complaint, two months later, and only after Bernier filed a government claim indicating he was suing over the injuries.

Little calls the criminal charges retaliatory.

"A person's decision to pursue civil liberties against officers should not dictate whether or not charges are filed against him," the attorney said.

The District Attorney's office couldn't comment on pending litigation.

The criminal case, though, is the reason Little got the police video.

He still doesn't know who kicked Bernier, so he filed his case against three separate agencies, saying they're all responsible for staying professional even in stressful situations like a chase.

"We don't want to have an armed goon squad patrolling our streets," Little said.

Little says Bernier suffered a fractured orbital bone and he's still dealing with the traumatic brain injury.

He pleaded not guilty to charges of evading arrest and DUI.

He's due back in court for that case next month, and the federal case is moving forward as well.
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