The City of Pasadena has agreed to pay a $3.2 million settlement to Chris Ballew over a federal civil rights lawsuit that resulted from a violent 2017 arrest by Pasadena Police Department Officers Zachary Lujan and Lerry Esparza. The lawsuit claimed that the officers used excessive force and engaged in racial profiling during the arrest following a traffic stop over tinted windows and a missing front license plate. The settlement was reached in exchange for the dismissal of Ballew's lawsuit, and it was announced by the city and Ballew's attorney in a joint statement.
In the video footage captured by a bystander, Ballew could be seen being punched and repeatedly hit with a metal baton by the officers, resulting in a broken fibula, facial injuries, and deep gashes on his legs. Although Ballew was initially charged with assaulting a police officer and resisting arrest, both charges were eventually dropped. In 2021, an internal police investigation cleared the officers of any wrongdoing.
Following this incident, the Pasadena Police Department implemented various changes to its policies and procedures to address issues of racial profiling and police brutality. Specifically, the department increased its training on implicit bias and the use of force, sought psychological consultation after use-of-force incidents, and instituted a mandatory procedural justice course for its officers. Despite these changes, incidents like Ballew's arrest continue to highlight ongoing issues in police operations, particularly when it comes to police brutality and racial profiling.
The settlement provides Ballew and his family a sense of closure and some measure of redress, in addition to serving as motivation for change. It sends a strong message that police brutality and racial profiling will not be tolerated and that those responsible will be held accountable for their actions. Ultimately, the settlement serves as a reminder that law enforcement agencies must work towards greater accountability and transparency to ensure fair and just policing practices in their communities.