Oakland Police Officer Denies Excessive Force Allegations in Riders Trial

Former Oakland police Officer Jude Siapno today denied allegations that he used excessive force while arresting a suspected drug dealer in West Oakland in the summer of 2000. Siapno, one of three so-called "Riders" officers who are accused of beating and framing suspected drug dealers, admitted that he beat suspect Delphine Allen in the feet with a flashlight on June 27, 2000. However, he said he did so only to get Allen back into a police patrol car before a crowd formed and the arrest scene got out of control. Siapno said he wanted to get away from the scene at 32nd and Market streets because it was a drug hotspot and officers had been informed that area residents were armed with guns. Siapno said he merely wanted to control Allen after the suspect kicked him with his feet. Siapno also said he wasn't trying to harm Allen, who alleged that Siapno and fellow Officer Frank Vasquez beat him repeatedly while he was handcuffed. Prosecutors Terry Wiley and Ben Beltramo tried to bar Siapno from testifying about why he wanted to rush Allen, who was convicted of selling cocaine last year, from the scene. But Alameda County Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Horner said it would be "inappropriate to totally prevent him from testifying about his state of mind" at the arrest scene. In a hearing outside the presence of jurors, Siapno's lawyer, William Rapoport, said, "The prosecution wants to sanitize my client's mind and the situation." Rapoport said Siapno's state of mind at the time "is the critical issue in determining the reasonableness of his actions." Siapno, 36, Clarence "Chuck" Mabanag, 39, and Matt Hornung, 32, are charged with a total of 15 felony counts, including filing false police reports, conspiracy to obstruct justice, assault and battery, kidnapping and false imprisonment. [more]