A Military Veteran Called The Cops After Being Robbed And They Placed Him In An Involuntary Hold
Manuel Gutierrez is proud to have served five years in the U.S. Air Force. He never thought his service would make him vulnerable to assumptions of his sanity by responding police officers. Gutierrez filed a $1 million claim against the Covina Police Department Monday for just that reason. Gutierrez was driving home around 3 a.m. when another car began tailing him. As he pulled into the driveway, Gutierrez alleges that a trio of robbers held him at gunpoint and robbed him. Gutierrez called the police. When Gutierrez told responding Officer Vanessa Pineda that he was a veteran, she began to tell him that he hallucinated the robbery and put him on a 72-hour involuntary psychiatric hold, also known as a 5150.
“I was denied protection, humiliated, and stripped of my sense of security,” Gutierrez said during a press conference.
Gutierrez’s father woke up to his wife screaming, “Call 911!” The family woke up to the sound of Manuel screaming, and the screech of a car pulling out of the driveway. Gutierrez’s experience of being robbed at gunpoint is harrowing. He told ABC7 News, “That’s when he [the robber] told me ‘Give me everything you got.’ I told him ‘I don’t have anything. Get away from me, leave me alone.'”
Manuel Gutierrez said he was giving his account of the story, but that the tone shifted one he disclosed his status as a veteran.
“Once I told her I was a veteran, she began self-diagnosing me with PTSD,” Gutierrez recalled. “I calmly told her I’ve never been diagnosed with PTSD.” Gutierrez served for five years in the Air Force but was never in a combat zone. Even though his family corroborated his story, and told officers that they saw a car pull away from their driveway, the young officer deemed his story unreliable. He was strapped onto a gurney and transported via ambulance to a psychiatric hospital.
“My rights were taken away from me. My voice was taken away from me,” Gutierrez told NBC News.
Gutierrez’s father ran to a neighbor’s house and retrieved footage of the robbery within an hour after his son’s hold.
You can see two sets of headlights in the upper left-hand corner, which is just outside the Gutierrez home. He showed both police and hospital staff the video of the car following his son into their driveway and then speeding off, but it still took an additional 60 hours for his son to be released. That means that Manuel Gutierrez had to endure the traumatic experience of being robbed, being effectively gaslit by a responding police officer meant to protect him, and still had to spend nearly three days in a psychiatric facility against his will.
The Covina Police Department reports that Gutierrez was acting suspiciously, and was carrying a baseball bat.
Gutierrez ran back into the house to grab a baseball bat, for fear the robbers would return. Manuel Gutierrez’s sister, Raquel, has been outspoken about the treatment of her brother and is demanding #JusticeforMannyG. In an Instagram post, she shared information obtained through the Freedom of Information Act and learned that Officer Pineda is a new member of the Covina police force. She’s demanding an apology from Covina PD and Officer Pineda “for allowing an inexperienced rookie to take the freedom away from a Veteran.”
According to code 5150, an officer can legally place someone on an involuntary hold “when a person, as a result of a mental health disorder, is a danger to others, or to himself or herself, or gravely disabled, a peace officer [or] professional person in charge.” In an audio recording posted on his family’s social media, Gutierrez tells his sister that he met with a psychiatrist for 5 minutes, and has been on a psych hold for 48 hours already.
The family is suing the Covina PD for compromising Manuel Gutierrez’s civil rights.
Raquel wants the public to “please share his story. This could have happened to anyone, please be aware of your rights and be safe!! Feel free to share on all platforms. These criminals are still at large. We must hold Covina PD and Officer Pineda responsible. Please help my family seek justice. #JUSTICEFORMANNYG”
The Gutierrez family is concerned that the robbers are still at large and terrorizing the community. The Covina Police Department has 45 days to respond before the lawsuit is filed.
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