Sean Webby, 9/24/10
The 15-year-old boy who was handcuffed by a San Jose police officer for having sex with the officer’s 14-year-old stepdaughter told the Mercury News on Friday that he was terrified he was going to jail. Now, he wants the veteran motorcycle policeman to feel the same fear.
“I think he should go to jail and feel how I felt, not being able to walk down my street,” the boy said in his first interview since news of his fake arrest became a national topic of debate about how far a father can go to protect his daughter.
“I thought he would be a good dad by just showing up and talking to my parents rather than taking advantage of his position,” the boy said.
The boy and his parents came forward Friday and asked the Mercury News to release the smartphone video that the boy’s stepfather secretly shot of the officer pretending to arrest the boy in the family’s home last month.
The grainy 5-minute, 36-second video shows the officer standing near the handcuffed boy and sternly telling him that it was “not a good thing that the person you had sex with is a cop’s daughter” and that “the district attorney will probably file charges. … A cop’s daughter is not somebody you mess around with. You’re stupid.”
The Mercury News posted the video on its website — www.mercurynews.com — and shared it with television partner KGO TV. The faces of the officer and the boy are obscured to avoid identifying the two teens because they are minors.
Now the officer is being criminally investigated for the Aug. 30 confrontation. Sources told the Mercury News that Santa Clara County prosecutors could make their decision about whether to file charges against the officer in about a week.
While the story quickly spread this week across the national talk show circuit, lawyers for both the officer and the boy’s parents weighed in Friday on whether the officer was acting as a protective, concerned father trying to scare an irresponsible teen straight or an angry policeman abusing his badge. The video, which does not show the entire encounter, is not definitive on either point.
“The part that disturbs me the most is there is a man in a uniform with his hand on the gun towering over a kid and telling him that he was stupid to mess with a cop’s daughter,” Tony Boskovich, an attorney representing the boy’s family, said. “What right does he have to use his uniform, his gun, his handcuffs if all he is is a dad?”
Terry Bowman, the lawyer representing the officer, said: “Most people can understand how this father felt and why he did what he did. It is a shame if the young man’s parents lose sight of the importance of the message because they have chosen to focus on what the girl’s father was wearing.”
The officer was equally displeased with his stepdaughter, Bowman said, and later that evening delivered an emphatic message to her that involved a pretend trip to juvenile hall. The officer did not reach the juvenile facility, as the car ride was enough to scare his daughter straight. “Let’s face it,” Bowman said, “being a parent of teenagers is not for the weak.”
The boy said Friday that he was convinced that he was about to be arrested that day and was terrified of the clearly furious officer. He said when the officer first approached him he began yelling and called him “a piece of (expletive).”
“I was scared, very scared,” the teenager said, adding that he collapsed with fear and that the officer yanked him back up by the handcuffs, which is not shown in the video.
The controversial intervention began soon after the officer found out that his teenage daughter had sex with the boy when he visited her during a baby-sitting job.
When the officer found out, he rode his motorcycle at the end of his shift — straight from work — to the boy’s house, a few blocks from his own home.
Through his lawyer, the officer said he was simply trying to scare the boy about his behavior.
But the boy’s parents, Paul Villarruel and Nicole Romero-Villarruel, said the officer began berating the teenager, telling him he had warned him to stay away from his daughter.
Then the officer made him drop a Sprite and placed handcuffs on the boy. After lecturing the boy for minutes, the officer unlocked the handcuffs and quietly told the parents he was not going to arrest their son after all. He just wanted to scare him, he said, and he handed the parents an arrest card that he suggested they put up on the refrigerator to make sure the boy did not forget.
Bowman pointed out that the video seems to show “a concerned parent, not an out-of-control officer abusing his authority.” She said the officer seems to administer a stern lecture and makes it clear that his daughter is too young and immature to have a sexual relationship. The officer also advises the young man to keep going to school, get good grades and be respectful, she noted.
But the Villarruels say that the officer had no permission to intervene with their son, pretend to arrest him or come into their home.
“We thought he was there to arrest our son,” the boy’s mother said. “He was in full cop mode the whole time.”
The stepfather said, “If I had done that to his daughter, I would be dead on the floor.”
After the boy’s parents complained to San Jose police’s internal affairs unit about the officer’s behavior, both teens ended up criminally cited by police for having underage sex.
When first interviewed for this story earlier in the week, police told the Mercury News that there was no specific written policy that dealt with officers investigating cases in which there is a personal conflict. The Mercury News has since discovered a policy that states officers “will avoid becoming officially involved in quarrels or disputes occurring in their own neighborhoods, unless the incident involves an immediate threat to human life.”
There is also a section of the officer’s code of ethics which states: “I will never act officiously or permit personal feelings, prejudices, animosities, or friendships to influence my decisions.”
The teenage boy later wrote down his thoughts about the traumatic day: “My mind keeps playing back the words ‘piece of (expletive).’ I don’t know if that is true or not. I’m constantly being mean to my little cousin … abusing my power. Like what (the officer) did. But I don’t want to be like that.”
When asked if he had any thoughts about teenage sex, the boy said, “I wouldn’t recommend it.”