HomeCity News‘It’s About Time’: Glendale Police Officer Faces Assault Charge

‘It’s About Time’: Glendale Police Officer Faces Assault Charge

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s office filed one felony assault charge on Monday against a Glendale police officer who allegedly kicked a juvenile suspected of shoplifting in the head in June 2021.
Video of the incident provided by a witness and first posted by CBS in June 2021 shows three plainclothes police officers holding down the then-17-year-old and punching him before a uniformed officer approached and then kicked the juvenile in the face at a Dick’s Sporting Goods in the Glendale Galleria.
The 39-year-old officer, Gonzalo Zendejas, has been charged with one felony count of assault by a public officer, according to a press release from the D.A.’s office. If Zendejas is convicted as charged, the maximum sentence is three years in county jail.
“While police officers face an extraordinarily challenging and demanding job while working to protect our communities, this responsibility does not excuse actions that endanger others or undermine public trust,” District Attorney George Gascón said. “This incident is a serious violation of the duty to serve with integrity and respect.”
The other three officers involved in the incident were cleared to return to full duty after being placed on administrative leave pending the investigation, Glendale police said.
On June 5, 2021, Glendale police responded to mall security officers’ observation of two juveniles allegedly shoplifting at the Glendale Galleria, the D.A.’s office said.
According to GPD, “when officers attempted to detain one suspect, he resisted, and a struggle ensued”; however, the juvenile’s attorney said the officers did not identify themselves as police.
“He had no idea who these adults were that were grabbing him or why they were grabbing him and before he knew it, he was on the ground,” Antoine Williams of Williams & Seemen told the News-Press. “… They were dressed in plain clothes, so he was completely confused.”
Williams acted as the young man’s attorney both in advocating for legal action against the officers involved and in representing him in a civil case against the Glendale Police Department. Though Williams said he could not divulge the details of the civil case, he said the suit “resolved very favorably” for his client last year.
Noting that he has “no idea why [police/mall security] were suspicious” of his client, Williams stressed that no charges were ever brought against the young man.
“I would imagine that if there was actually anything to substantiate the allegation, they could have certainly pursued it in a juvenile court,” Williams said.
The D.A.’s office did not respond to a request for more information surrounding the alleged shoplifting by the News-Press’ deadline.
Emphasizing its commitment to transparency, the Glendale Police Department said it is “committed to maintaining the highest ethical standards in service and ensuring those we encounter daily are treated with dignity, respect and professionalism, regardless of their background or circumstances,” in a statement.
In addition to the video that shows the alleged assault, photos of the young man’s facial swelling and bruising circulated on social media and news outlets.
Although Williams said he could not provide details about his client’s injuries, he did give some context.
“He needed treatment well beyond the initial care they provided on the scene and at the hospital immediately after,” Williams said. “He definitely had multiple injuries primarily related to the head, face and eyes, the areas that they targeted.”
While Williams’ initial reaction to the news of Zendejas’ charge was “it’s about time,” the attorney said he is now eager to see what will happen next.
“I was immediately curious about how the D.A.’s office would go about resolving this issue, not just charging the officer, but how they’re going to resolve it,” he said. “Is it going to be a slap on the wrist, a misdemeanor conviction, some anger management or will it be something more serious, like what other people who commit similar crimes face?”
As for the young man involved, his attorney said he and his family were relieved to hear the news of Zendejas’ charge.
“This is really the final step in the healing process for him,” Williams said. “… He’s graduated from high school. He’s just hoping to put all this behind him and so having this final piece conclude was a major relief.”

First published in the June 8 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.

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