Settlement Reached In San Mateo Police Officer Groping Case

SAN MATEO (CBS SF) – A woman who sued the San Mateo Police Department last year alleging that an officer groped her during a traffic stop reached a settlement in the case on Thursday.

The settlement awards the woman, identified as Sandra Hernandez, $70,000 plus her attorney’s fees, according to her attorney, Panos Lagos. The driver of the car was Hernandez’s boyfriend, Jose Galindo, who reached a settlement for $10,000 in January, Lagos said.

The city of San Mateo and the Police Department admitted no liability in agreeing to the settlement, which is pending approval by the City Council.

The allegations in the suit happened during a traffic stop on Aug. 26, 2015, when San Mateo police officers Derrick Jarvis and Faysal Abi-Chahine pulled over a driver for a broken tail light, according to the suit, which was filed in U.S. District Court in Oakland.

Abi-Chahine then asked Hernandez for her driver’s license, even though she wasn’t driving, ordered her out of the car and accused her of being on drugs. He aimed a flashlight in her eyes, asked her to stick out her tongue and took her pulse.

Eventually he told her to go to the back of the patrol vehicle so he could search her. He put his hands in her pockets and groped her, according to the suit.

Meanwhile, Jarvis searched the car for drugs. Eventually Galindo and Hernandez were let go without even a citation.

After the lawsuit was filed last year, San Mateo police released a statement saying that they had received a complaint regarding the stop and had completed a thorough investigation but did not find sufficient evidence of wrongdoing by the officers.

San Mateo police officials declined to comment on the matter Friday.

The 116-member department was also hit last year by a high-profile scandal involving allegations of repeated sexual assaults by an officer, Noah Winchester.

Winchester was eventually charged with 22 felonies for assaults on three victims while he was on duty as a San Mateo police officer and two during his previous employment as an officer for the Los Rios Community College District in Sacramento.

The charges for one of the victims have since been dismissed. The case is scheduled to go to trial in February.

© Copyright 2017 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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