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Turlock police, city victorious in lawsuit
city of turlock

A Stanislaus County jury has tossed out a lawsuit against the City of Turlock, the Turlock Police Department and a Turlock police sergeant as frivolous.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict in siding with the city in the lawsuit, in which the plaintiff, Roni Roberts, was claiming false arrest, assault, battery, negligence, violation of civil rights and intentional infliction of emotional distress, according to the court records.

The lawsuit stemmed from an incident that occurred on Feb. 16, 2013 in Turlock. Roberts had purchased a Turlock property at a foreclosure sale in late January 2013. On Feb. 16, 2013, Roberts’ employee saw the previous owner at the property and reported it to the Turlock Police Department as a burglary.

Turlock police officers, including Sgt. Dave Shaw, responded to the residence, and upon some investigation, Shaw determined the previous owner had a right to remove her personal belongings from the property.

In California, a property owner has to give a tenant a three-day notice to quit the property. If by the end of the three days the tenant has not left, the property owner can file an eviction lawsuit or an unlawful detainer. An eviction process takes about 30 days. Once a judge has ordered an eviction, a tenant has five days to remove any belongings before the sheriff’s department changes the locks.

There was nothing in the Stanislaus County Superior Court case index showing an eviction lawsuit filed by Roberts in 2013, however there were some filed by RT Financial Inc., of which Roberts is associated.

According to the police report, Roberts began walking towards the property and allegedly made threats to kick out the occupants. The City stated Shaw was concerned Roberts might harm the woman removing her belongings and repeatedly told Roberts not to enter the property. When Roberts allegedly attempted to enter the property, Shaw put him under arrest.

The lawsuit was filed in March 2014 and went through a lengthy court process before the trial began on Dec. 1. The verdict was returned Dec. 10.

Roberts was represented by Kevin Clune and Ivo Labar of the Kerr Wagstaffe firm in San Francisco. The City of Turlock and Sgt. Shaw were represented by Bradley Swingle and Ameet Birring of the Arata, Swingle, Sodhi & Van Egmond firm in Modesto.

 “I’m pleased that common sense and justice prevailed,” said Mayor Gary Soiseth. “Turlock’s police officers conduct themselves with discipline, professionalism, and—most importantly—respect for the law. It’s a shame that time and resources were wasted on this trial. I applaud our officers, especially Sgt. Dave Shaw, for their integrity and patience throughout the trial.”