A newly-surfaced police officer's body camera video (below) shows him pushing down an elderly woman, Patricia Mugrauer, in Modesto, California, in 2016.
The senior suffered a broken hip and sued the city. She died on Jan. 26, 2017, only one week after she got a settlement for almost $750,000, noted The Modesto Bee.
At the time of the incident, Patricia was the landlord to a man whose girlfriend had moved in, and then moved out. The girlfriend wanted to retrieve her belongings, but the man asked Patricia not to let the girlfriend into his room unless he was there to make sure there were no problems.
The man was on his way home when the girlfriend called the police and Officers John C. Lee and Randy Raduechel showed up.
The Modesto Police Department released edited video from the officers' body cameras that shows Lee told Patricia to let the girlfriend in, which the disabled senior refused to do.
Patricia's son, Wade Mugrauer, told the officers that they could not enter the home without a warrant, but Lee insisted: "No, that’s not true."
Patricia placed her hand on the door, but Lee pushed the door open, pushed Patricia down, and entered the home.
"All right, there’s a lawsuit," Patricia responded from the floor.
"There is no reason for you to go to slam that door on me!" Lee told Patricia. "There is no reason for you to do that!"
UC Davis School of Law professor Floyd Feeney told the newspaper that the cops should not have entered the home without a warrant or unless there was an emergency situation:
I’ve never been a police officer, but you just don’t do that. I’ve spent a lot of time with police departments in California and in other states and spent 1 1/2 years working with Scotland Yard and other police departments in Great Britain. That is very aggressive (behavior). Police officers don’t like to have their authority questioned. They have a very hard job, but there is no basis for doing that. There was no emergency going on here.
However, Modesto Police Chief Galen Carroll defended Lee:
I believe he wasn’t even thinking about entering the house. He was trying to make sure she didn’t close the door and didn’t intend for her to fall. In a split second, I don’t think there is a whole lot of thinking about options. It’s more of a reaction... We aren’t there to violate anyone’s rights or take enforcement action. We are there because the two parties can’t agree, and no matter what we do, one or both parties are mad.
The official settlement number was $745,651.01, plus legal costs, notes The Associated Press.
Sanjay Schmidt, the Mugrauer family's lawyer, said the City of Modesto still owes the six-figure settlement to Mugrauer's estate.
However, Blake Loebs, a lawyer who represents the city, said the city's attorneys have reviewed the effect that Patricia's death has had on the case, and some unidentified issues have not been resolved.
(Note: Pushing part begins at 4:15 mark)