A 35-year-old rodeo bull rider and mechanic admitted he was wrong to improperly execute a mechanics lien for transmission work he had performed for a customer.
And he was wrong to illegally lead Bakersfield police officers on a vehicle pursuit in the city’s southwest on a Dec. 30 afternoon.
But none of that, Jeffrey Dibbern says, justifies what he claims police did to him when they caught up with him.
“The BPD has stripped me of the ability to provide for my family,” Dibbern said from his wheelchair.
At a press conference held Wednesday morning outside an Arco station at White Lane and Wible Road, Dibbern’s attorneys, DeWitt M. Lacy and Julia N. Quesada, of Burris, Nisenbaum, Curry & Lacy, announced that on Tuesday they filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city of Bakersfield and six Bakersfield police officers on behalf of their client.
Reached Wednesday afternoon, Bakersfield City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said she would have no comment as her office had not yet been served with the complaint.
As the midday sun beat down on the sidewalk news conference Wednesday, Quesada said her unarmed client had been rammed against a block wall — crushing his legs and lower extremities — by a patrol vehicle driven by Bakersfield Police Officer Anthony Kidwell. Quesada called it a “grossly unjustified use of excessive force.”
“The force of the impact,” according to the lawsuit, “knocked Mr. Dibbern out of his shoes.
“In fear for his life, Mr. Dibbern used whatever upper body strength he could gather to push himself over a concrete wall” on the White Lane side of the Arco parking lot, the lawsuit said.
According to Dibbern’s attorneys and the text of the lawsuit, Dibbern was attempting to surrender when he was struck by the SUV.
But Dibbern had run from the pickup he was riding in when police were closing in at the intersection of Wible Road and White Lane. And in police body cam video, police radio traffic indicated there was a second man in the pickup with Dibbern, although no mention of a second man is made in the lawsuit.
Again, in police body cam video, it appears police recovered a handgun at the base of the wall following Dibbern’s arrest. No mention of the gun is made in the complaint.
Although Kidwell’s body cam video is too low in relation to the police vehicle’s dashboard to see the front of the SUV strike Dibbern, the sound of his screams begin at that point in the video and never stop.
Upon impact, officer Kidwell’s airbag deployed. Nonetheless, he is out of the vehicle in an instant and follows another officer over the wall.
Dibbern is there, seen lying on the ground screaming in agony. But an officer’s voice can be heard repeating, “Get on the ground. Get on the ground.”
Dibbern’s attorneys in the lawsuit accuse additional officers of beating Dibbern despite his injuries and lack of resistance.
One officer can be heard calling for medical aid, but officers picked up the screaming Dibbert and loaded him in the back of a police SUV.
“The direct injuries that they treated me for were a broken back in three places, broke my pelvis in four places, broke my hip, my femur in two places, broke my left femur, my right and left tibia (shin bone) … it completely degloved my foot, completely shattering it, rendering it useless,” Dibbert said.
Degloving, also called avulsion, happens when the top layers of skin and tissue are ripped from the underlying muscle, connective tissue or bone. Degloving injuries are often life-threatening.
A photo of Dibbern’s injured foot is included among the evidence collected by his attorneys.
“We cannot prosecute these officers in criminal court,” Lacy told reporters.
But some justice may be available in civil court, he said.
Reporter Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.