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Marine says ranger roughed him up

Warrior's non-apparent injuries spark suggestion of handicap placard abuse

According to the Fresno Bee, Dominic Esquibel, a disabled San Diego Marine who received the Navy Cross for heroism in Iraq, is suing the federal government, alleging he was roughed up by a ranger at Sequoia National Park.

According to the Bee, the complaint says that a park employee told Esquibel he couldn't park in a handicap parking space because he appeared to be able-bodied as he walked to the restroom. (Esquibel's leg — and elbow and hearing — were reportedly damaged when he stepped on a bomb in Iraq.)

Esquibel claims that a park ranger showed up to question him, treated him roughly in front of his family, and ultimately handcuffed him. The ranger allegedly arrested him for failing to follow a lawful order.

Esquibel is suing for assault and battery, false arrest, and false imprisonment, negligence, and infliction of emotional distress. He is believed to be seeking $750,000.

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According to the Fresno Bee, Dominic Esquibel, a disabled San Diego Marine who received the Navy Cross for heroism in Iraq, is suing the federal government, alleging he was roughed up by a ranger at Sequoia National Park.

According to the Bee, the complaint says that a park employee told Esquibel he couldn't park in a handicap parking space because he appeared to be able-bodied as he walked to the restroom. (Esquibel's leg — and elbow and hearing — were reportedly damaged when he stepped on a bomb in Iraq.)

Esquibel claims that a park ranger showed up to question him, treated him roughly in front of his family, and ultimately handcuffed him. The ranger allegedly arrested him for failing to follow a lawful order.

Esquibel is suing for assault and battery, false arrest, and false imprisonment, negligence, and infliction of emotional distress. He is believed to be seeking $750,000.

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Comments
49

So unless you limp or are obviously handicapped you're subject to arrest? I have a heart condition that limits my mobility why should I go into my medical condition with law enforcement? The handicapped placard requires a medical doctor's statement of disability, a signed form that tells the DMV your medical condition.

Officers of the law can either ticket the suspected parking scoff and the disabled placard holder can fight the ticket in court or they can let it go. But handcuffing over a parking ticket? Very poor judgment to say the least.

Nov. 9, 2014

MichaelValentine: It sounds like poor judgment, but we only know a sketch of the story. The facts as they develop may show that the government has a good defense. It sounds to me like the Marine is asking for a lot of money, and his charges seem to be a stretch. Assault and battery? Emotional distress? Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 9, 2014

Yes it seems like a lot of money, however how do you gage the emotional distress of a veteran suffering from PTSD? Or the embarrassment of being cuffed and stuffed into a police car in front of your children? Over a handicapped parking ticket? Mr. Esquibil did in fact posses a handicapped placard but was arrested for failing to obey a lawful order? How is that? He broke no laws. Why is it we have to follow orders from the police when we aren't doing anything wrong. It's the kind of catch all charge that's a fall back when a cop's actions makes him look stupid and the charge he wanted to use, abuse of the handicapped parking space, wouldn't wash.

I'm a retired correctional officer and witnessed quite a number of power trips by the police. This sounds like a power trip by a cop with poor judgment ... and in a National Park at that. Still it will be interesting to see how this plays out.

Nov. 9, 2014

MichaelValentine: The facts have not all come out. It's hard to pre-judge this one. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

Sadly, this early rational and knowledge-based comment was subsequently and frequently ignored by others.

Dec. 17, 2014

First off sounds like the "ranger" needs a job with less interaction with the public. Sounds like he'd do a better job cleaning up animal fecal dropping than parking mitigation. Secondly, while Esquibel has complained, his attorney, no doubt working for a juicy contingency fee, filed the complaint. If this case ever sees the inside of a courtroom, I suspect a limp will be pronounced, choreographed by his counsel.....oops my cynical side let that last comment slip out.

Nov. 10, 2014

JustWondering: You make excellent points. Don't apologize for being cynical. Anybody who is not cynical these days should stay at home and not answer the phone or respond to pitches on the Internet.

Yes, when somebody asks for $750,000, citing infliction of emotional distress, among other things, you know a lawyer is involved, probably on a contingency fee basis. As I have said, it appears there are two sides to this story. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

Skeptical, yes, cynical, no. I have felt considerable emotional distress when confronted by dumb (as opposed to well-trained) cops, and I can well understand how the vet might have been provoked into raising his voice. But, as anyone who has been through boot-camp should know, a raised voice is not justification for physical action. Resisting arrest was not mentioned.

But that would be speculation, wouldn't it? Hardly a basis for a rational conclusion.

Dec. 17, 2014

How much money should the Marine ask for?

Who should pay the money?

How much of a penalty does it take to modify behavior?

How little money should the Marine ask for?

How does the fact that public servants of all kinds are shielded from liability encourage bad conduct and brutality?

How much money do taxpayers pay out every year to satisfy claims and judgments?

How do you know that the charges are a stretch?

Emotional distress? Can you be more specific? It seems that you are minimizing emotional distress? You're one tough cookie, Don, but maybe not everybody has your strength. But "strength" is relative to context.

I don't know about you, but when I got out of the military, I was pretty close to the edge, but there was no such thing as PTSD--but frankly, I'm glad for today's young men and women that it's recognized. I'm not sure I've ever recovered from the context I was in. Nobody's context is the same.

I suggest that you write another article when this case is resolved and the facts are out (as much as they can be).

Dec. 17, 2014

Perhaps, but the officer must have probable cause and do other due diligence. If the man's paperwork was in order (the officer refused to look at it), it would be a bad pinch.

Dec. 17, 2014

The abuse of handicapped placards is rampant. Not saying that this is the case here but once you get a handicapped placard or license plate no one can question you. Not the police or private security or parking enforcement. If you complain you are told that there is nothing that can be done because of the ADA. Doctors will fill out the form for almost anything.

Nov. 10, 2014

Exactly. It's unbelievable the number of people with these invisible syndromes who can pull into their private protected reserved parking spot at the mall, hop out, jog in, shop for hours, and walk out carrying piles of bags.

Nov. 10, 2014

jnojr: I can't remember seeing this happen, but I hear about it occasionally. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

I, too, once "thought" that abuse was rampant, but then I learned that I needed evidence, not guesswork or presumption.

Dec. 17, 2014

Show me the data that prove just how "rampant" the abuse of handicapped placards is, please.

Which and how many doctors will "fill out the form for almost anything" how many times? How many unjustified handicapped placards exist as a percentage of valid ones?

What, specifically, do you suggest?

Dec. 17, 2014

AlexClarke: Interesting that we have different viewpoints here in the responses. Again, it's too early to call this one. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

"Different" alright--well-founded and fact-founded and ill-founded.

Dec. 17, 2014

People with COPD, AIDS or other diseases which have slight effect on locomotion however do limit the distances they can travel on foot without exhaustion. So there are people who appear able-bodied but have a valid reason to use a parking space that permits them a short walk to the entrance.

However, there is abuse by people using the placards to avoid using parking meters, particularly in downtown areas. Also some people use another persons placard. It's really not up to law enforcement to confront people since police are not qualified to practice medicine and determine the fitness of any individual. If people witness abuse it should be reported to the DMV, where enough complaints will open an inquiry.

The abuse could be stemmed by limiting to specific doctors (or specialties) who can sign a patients request form. At present, any "physician" can document a disability for a patient. A plastic surgeon, dermatologist, even an anethesiologist or oral surgeon (with an MD).

Nov. 10, 2014

Ponzi: You make excellent points. Some with disabilities can walk OK, but not far. But there is a lot of abuse of handicapped placards. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

Problem is, whenever you identify some group of people and say they get some special privilege or benefit, you create two problems: 1) People try to become members of that special group; and 2) we can always find someone who's just outside of that group but really deserves to be in it. So that small group grows and expands until everyone is in it. And they'll all bitterly defend their "rights" and entitlements.

The answer, as always, lies in a free market, not government mandates and regulations. In a free market, I can reserve my parking spaces for whomever I want, and if I don't reserve one for you, you're free to take your business elsewheres. If either of us is wrong, we'll pay the price and serve as an object lesson to everyone else.

Several years ago, I read that one in sixteen California residents (not licensed drivers, RESIDENTS) had a handicap placard or plate or whatever. I have no idea if that's true today, or if it was true then, but that's something there should be an exposé on... I bet there are a million placards out there, minimum, and there is rampant abuse and fraud. The people who are TRULY disabled should be 100% in favor of such an investigation and cleanup and criminal charges for the abusers, but I predict you'll hear nothing but opposition.

Nov. 10, 2014

jnojr: Trouble is, if the free market determined who gets the placards, those with money will get them. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

Excellent points. However, we need good data on the abuse. However, for the reasons you point out, if everyone who "suspects" that a person does not "deserve" a placard reports it to DMV, be prepared to inflate the DMV budget. Let us not have a solution in search of a problem . . .

Dec. 17, 2014

Does a federal land ranger, recognize a state issued placard? That's where the problem probably originally began. It brings to light the question of the growing militarization of our public servants. When lifeguards carry guns, and DFW game wardens wear outward bullet proof "police" vests when just checking fishing licenses, it does make us members of the public wonder why it appears they are at war with their own citizenry. Don, please follow up in this story as it develops.

Nov. 10, 2014

All of those behaviors are a reflection of, first, the times we live in where crooks have more firepower than the cops. And, secondly, top down leadership or should I say the lack of it.

Nov. 10, 2014

JustWondering: Good points, but the cops are usually if not always on the side of the private sector bandits. No question we have not had sound top-down leadership for decades. But I would rather see bottom-up protests than top-down brutalization. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

"No question we have not had sound top-down leadership for decades." That just needed to be repeated on its own for emphasis.

Nov. 10, 2014

Wabbitsd: Maybe we won't have top-down leadership until we have bottom-up rebellion. Americans are very quiet about today's economic conditions -- particularly the horrendous wealth and income disparity -- compared to unhappy people of the past. The populists and progressives of the late 19th and early 20th centuries raised hell about their conditions. We don't. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

That's because the government understands the Goldilocks theory. It knows just how much it needs to give people to keep them satisfied, fat, dumb, and unmotivated. No need to rock the boat with protesting, folks better off just waiting for the next benefit payment to come along.

Nov. 10, 2014

JustWondering: Goldilocks basically benefits Wall Street. Interest rates stay low -- today, extremely low. The government may try to keep everything not too hot and not too cold, but sometimes it doesn't work: late 2007-early 2009 is an example. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

Ken Harrison: I don't know if a state-issued placard applies in a federal park. I agree with you on militarization of police in particular. The Occupy movement was brutally put down with rampant use of military-related equipment and techniques. I believe the Obama administration was behind that. Shame. I believe Washington D.C. fears that the vast income and wealth gap will one day precipitate riots, if not revolution.

I am appalled that local police forces are supplied with tank-like equipment and use pepper sprays and tear gas, which can be harmful. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

The feds are supposed to recognize placards from all states.

With respect to the underlying psychology, please see the movie, "Lonely Are the Brave." The lieutenant in the helicopter with the gun.

Dec. 17, 2014

Shouldn't mess with a Marine. Mr. Park Ranger shoulda been watching for bears stealing pica-nic baskets. When somebody needs a day at the park as bad as this guy did and it's ruined by a moron with a badge, Mr. Park Ranger moron is lucky he's not left-overs.

Nov. 10, 2014

shirleyberan: On the other hand, parking could be a big problem in that national park, and the ranger was assigned to that duty. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

If the "ranger" was assigned to that duty he or she should have been trained in the law, not something made up our of her or his own prejudices.

Dec. 17, 2014

The spot was available. Handicapped parking usually stands open. He sould write a ticket and keep his opinions to himself. So you're saying he's not a moron just the parking lot police, OK.

Nov. 10, 2014

shirleyberan: I didn't say the ranger was a moron or not a moron. I think we can't draw such conclusions until we know more facts. I fear this may be another ambulance-chasing lawsuit. But I could be wrong on that. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

Shirley, we need more women who respond to this blog. Thanks for your contributions. You're remarks are spot-on.

Don, Shirley is saying the "ranger" was a moron, not that you said so. Please re-read her posts.

Any "peace" officer (as I believe they still should be termed) that tries to hand out kangaroo-court justice on the spot is, well, something like a moron, an idiot, or any of the vast number of less polite and more politically-correct terms. Ok, "bad judgment." Whatever, as long as he/she actually learns the fundamental lesson that her/his job is LIMITED to the law, and that "surmise, surprise" is a no-no!

Dec. 17, 2014

Feen Oh: Pregnant women -- particularly if they are accompanied by their young children -- probably need handicapped parking more than some who manage to wangle a placard, then abuse the privilege. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 10, 2014

Some stores have reserved spaces for pregnant women. Fresh & Easy for example. I have seen the reserved spaces at other retailers but can't recall the names.

Nov. 11, 2014

Ponzi: Then Feen Oh's suggestion has already been followed by certain merchants. I never had such a distinction when I was in high school more than 60 years ago. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 11, 2014

There once was a thing called common courtesy. And in a free country, no one is required to take no $hit from nobody, no time. Reserving a few for the infirm, with or without papers, was once a kind of thing one did. But hell, an infirm person can't hardly cross the street anymore.

Dec. 17, 2014

Target reserves several spaces for moms to be and during holiday shopping it doesn't matter, first come first parked. How do you check if she's actually pregnant anyway? Don - I don't understand, you were pregnant in high school?

Nov. 11, 2014

shirleyberan: I have never been pregnant. It's a genetic thing. What I meant was that in high school, I never made a suggestion that was followed by retailers. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 11, 2014

The handicapped placard is only for the use of a handicapped person, any other use is illegal. Just owning the placard doesn't mean others can use it. Abuse of the placard is a misdemeanor if I remember correctly. If he jogged to the restroom, the ranger might reasonably think he was not the handicapped person issued the placard.

Nov. 15, 2014

Psycholizard: But as others have pointed out, if he had other physical problems that didn't interfere with his ability to jog, he might well have deserved that placard. Best, Don Bauder

Nov. 16, 2014

That's none of the ranger's business, PERIOD. IF the placard/plate matches the paperwork in the possession of the individual and matches proper identification, that's the END of it. Even if the "ranger" has an MD, which is highly unlikely, but even then, he or she must be that person's doctor, not merely a nosy one. Medical records are restricted from access except through formal legal procedures.

Dec. 17, 2014

Depends what you mean by deserve I suppose. My sympathy ends with the lawsuit, only a schemer would file that, and that makes me doubt he is entitled to the placard. Sounds like $5K and on to the next slip and fall.

Nov. 17, 2014

Please click on the link at the beginning of the article or here http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/06/06/3965323_marine-alleges-he-was-injured.html?rh=1 and read the piece. Then, please post whether or not you intend to modify your remarks.

Dec. 17, 2014

Don, your commentators usually make excellent comments and usually inform themselves before they shoot their mouths off. A few of them did comment here, but the fundamentals have still not been clearly expressed.

  1. Medical records must be subpoenaed. No one, ESPECIALLY a "law-enforcement officer," has a right to know anything about anyone's medical record, PERIOD. Every person, handicapped or not, is not required to provide anyone, ESPECIALLY a sworn officer, with ANY medical information.

  2. There was no violation. The "ranger," IF she was a sworn officer, has a right to see the handicapped person's identification and paper permit and check it against the number on the card or plate, and run the plate or placard, provided she or he has reasonable cause to do so. PERIOD.

  3. Anyone transporting a person with a valid handicapped permit which is prominently displayed may park legally in a handicapped parking spot.

It appears that the officer did the provoking, not the vet, and did so simply because she didn't understand the obligations she has to follow the law, not her emotions and opinions when she is using that badge.

As far as the vet's reaction, he had a right to be outraged. Walk a few feet in his shoes. I'll trade my bad foot for any of you self-styled soothsayers who claim (without any factual foundation--show me) that those with handicapped placards/plates are faking it--provided the foot will allow me to back-pack again.

Furthermore, there are lots of young people with debilitating diseases that don’t “show” (e.g., rheumatoid arthritis) who walk with great pain, and older people with and without handicapped permits who should be given the benefit of the doubt.

We handicapped people do everything we can to do everything we can. It feels good to walk, almost normally, a few feet or a block even though we know we will pay a great penalty in pain, or even run the risk of a deadly fall. “Catch” us in one of those moments, and you might conclude that we don’t deserve a handicapped placard/plate or that we’re faking it. But these same people, to be able to go much farther, will need various combinations of canes, walkers, chairs, crutches, or other aids to our condition (some of which are hidden as much as we can (e.g. braces, internal pins and other hardware) after walking “normally” for a short distance.

I look forward to your corrections. I especially look forward to your donations of a good foot so I can hike over Kearsarge Pass and backpack around Europe again. I thank those few who made some of the points I have repeated here.

Harassment of the handicapped by police and other self-righteous hypocrites is something we have to live with, but it angers us.

Dec. 17, 2014

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