A Los Angeles jury last week ordered a veteran Pasadena police officer to pay a salesman $750,000 who claimed the officer pointed a gun at him after a sales pitch that turned potentially deadly at the officer’s home.
According to a City News Service (CNS) article,
Omar Segura, a 37-year-old door-to-door salesman, testified last week at a civil trial in Los Angeles that Pasadena police Cpl. Sam De Sylva aimed a gun at his head during an allegedly “racially motivated confrontation” at the front door of De Sylva’s home in Santa Clarita in 2015.
The jury reached its decision in favor of Segura, who is of Panamanian descent and a resident of Stevenson Ranch, a neighborhood of San Clarita, after deliberating for two hours.
The incident began after Segura came upon the policeman’s home while going door to door on Jan. 2, 2015 in efforts to sell him a security system.
After a heated discussion, Segura claimed he showed De Sylva a permit allowing him to sell in the area. According to Segura, De Sylva snatched the document from him, then when Segura tried to get it back he pulled his service revolver and made him get on the ground, where he remained until sheriff’s deputies arrested him. He testified he did not know De Sylva was a police officer until deputies arrived.
De Sylva is a 17-year veteran of the Pasadena Police Department who is currently assigned to the office of the chief as the policies and risk management auditor.
In an email to the Pasadena Weekly, Pasadena Police Officers Association Treasurer David Llanes said that De Sylva’s wife was suspicious of Segura and had asked him to leave several times.
“Many of us have been victims of eager, unprofessional, rude and overly aggressive solicitors who come to our doors uninvited and continue to push their wares, even after being asked to leave,” Llanes wrote.
According to Llanes, after Segura refused to leave De Sylva became concerned about the safety of his wife and kids.
“With two young children at her side and her husband unavailable at the moment,” Llanes wrote, “was it unreasonable for the spouse of a police officer to be scared — knowing her husband faces an untold number of daily threats at home and work?”
De Sylva testified that he drew his weapon after Segura ignored repeated orders to leave the property.
Police Chief John Perez said the department had completed its internal affairs investigation into the matter, but could not discuss the results due to state law which seals police officer personnel records.
However, “We stand by Cpl. De Sylva 100 percent,” said Perez. “He is well respected in Pasadena and in the community where he lives.”
De Sylva has denied any of his actions were racially motivated, as Segura claims.