Flower Vendor Sues Riverside County Sheriff's Department for Excessive Force

A flower vendor announced a lawsuit Tuesday against the Riverside County Sheriff’s Department after she was arrested in June 2017 for selling flowers without a permit. She alleges that the officers involved in the caught-on-camera arrest used excessive force.

The cellphone video shows a sheriff's deputy in an altercation with a woman who allegedly did not have a permit to sell flowers outside a high school graduation ceremony in Perris. 

That woman Joaquina Valencia is now suing the Riverside County Sheriff's Department for excessive force and saying no human should ever be treated the way she was. 

The complaint alleges Valencia was "unjustifiably beaten, shoved to the ground and arrested." 

"He tossed me like a rag," Valencia said in Spanish.

But new helmet cam video worn by one of the deputies released Monday shows the altercation from a different angle, on which Valencia's son can be heard telling his mom to not move.

The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department says that Valencia used a false name (Juanita Mendez-Medrano) when she was detained and resisted arrest. A year later, the department stands by its arrest, claiming they verified her identity through fingerprints. 

However, Valencia's attorney Ralph Rios argues that Joaquina Valencia is her true name and that she was just nervous.

DMV records also confirm Valencia is the woman's true name. 

"A lot of times when people do that, people get nervous and, she might have said a different name, she might have said something," Rios said.

Valencia’s other attorney, Luis Carrillo says that someone selling flowers is not a criminal.

"A person selling flowers is not a dangerous criminal, it's not a bad person. A person selling flowers is making a living. And for him to ask about papers, that shows the frame of mind, he has a racist frame of mind to assume she's not a US citizen. But she is," Carrillo said. 

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