Jury Award Over $2 Million for Wrongful Detention and Excessive Force

Chula Vista police station

A federal jury awarded over $2 million to U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent Sergio Lopez, finding that members of the Chula Vista Police Department committed assault and battery against him.

On October 18, 2006, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Bureau of Immigration and Custom Enforcement Agent Sergio Lopez was working in an official capacity undercover, tracking smugglers in the Industrial and L Street area of Chula Vista. The Chula Vista Police Department Dispatch had already been advised of the specific surveillance operation. Agent Lopez received notification on his service radio of a suspicious meeting in a parking lot and proceeded to the location, activating his blue and amber emergency lights and siren. En route Chula Vista police officers pulled him over.

Agent Lopez showed his badge and credentials and tried to explain that he was a Federal Agent. The Chula Vista police and threatened Agent Lopez with a stun gun, handcuffed him and forced him to the ground. Agent Lopez’s arm was pulled so severely that he feared it would snap, his head hit the asphalt and his spine was injured. It took more than two hours for the police to release Agent Lopez. 

The case went to a jury trial and the jury decided in favor of Agent Lopez, agreeing that the Chula Vista officers had battered and assaulted him. The jury awarded $1,200,000 in compensatory damages and $1,000,000 in punitive damages.

Media Coverage

ICE agent awarded $2.2 million in police assault
LA Times
March 11, 2010
Chula Vista officers ignored undercover agent's badge, throwing him to the street and assaulting him

Agent Wins $2 Million in Police Brutality Lawsuit
News 7 San Diego
March 11, 2010
A federal jury in San Diego has awarded more than $2 million to a U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent who says he was roughed up by Chula Vista police officers during an undercover operation.