Her son, Arturo Pleitez, has been arrested many times. He’s used drugs, he drinks, he causes problems, his family said. Police have been inside his 79-year-old mother’s house multiple times in the past, but never before has she been the subject of police action.
That changed on Friday evening, said Pleitez’s mother, Ligia Berroteran, an elegant, slight woman who still seems dazed by what happened after police, in pursuit of her 55-year-old son, entered her home.
Berroteran said that a policewoman, one of seven involved in subduing her son, grabbed her and pushed her against the wall. Bruises now cover her neck, arm and head. An earlier leg injury, she said, has worsened.
The police report tells a similar story of the struggle between Pleitez and officers that ended in the hallway of his mother’s home, but differs in one instance –how his mother ended up covered in bruises.
“She tried to pull an officer away from her son,” said Officer Grace Gatpandan, reading from the police report. “There were a whole lot of things going on.” An officer, said Gatpandan, accidentally “pushed her away”
The difference in these two accounts is likely to become the starting point for an investigation that Gatpandan said will take place if the family files a complaint with the Office of Citizen Complaints.
Kenia Williams, Berroteran’s daughter, says they plan on doing exactly that. “It was excessive force,” said Williams.
After the incident, Berroteran said that one Latino officer told her, “’They aren’t supposed to do that.’”
Berroteran’s complaints focus on one female officer. Once she had been pushed against the wall, she said, other officers helped the wisp of a woman to an armchair in her living room.
One tried to handcuff her, Berroteran said, but then stopped after she protested. An ambulance was called and Berroteran was treated at San Francisco General Hospital; she was released early Saturday morning. She’s now recovering at home and trying to piece together how she ended up a victim. Berroteran said she has never been arrested for anything – that she drove for sixty years and never received a ticket.
She knows her son is difficult. She’s tried, she said, to get him into programs, but that has not been easy. Instead, he is in and out of jail and got into trouble on Friday night because he was violating a restraining order, Berroteran said adding, “He is not right in the head.”
The police report said that someone called in an incident at a store at the corner of 24th and South Van Ness. When police showed up, nothing was happening, but for reasons that are unclear Pleitez flagged police down and then refused to talk, according to the police report. When officers gave chase, he ran to his mother’s house up the block and entered. Police followed him into the narrow entryway.
It’s there that the scuffle occurred. Pleitez swung with his fists, according to the police report, and officers tried to subdue him. Nearby, his mother pleaded with the officers to stop hitting him. She also pleaded with her son to submit and to stop resisting arrest.
“Ligia was accidentally knocked to the ground,” Gatpandan said, adding that it looked as if she got tangled in the fight while officers were trying to detain her son. In the end, police succeeded and Pleitez is being held in jail on multiple charges including a felony, resisting arrest, and battery against a police officer.
Berroteran understands her son’s charges, but maintains that the small part of the evening describing what happened to her is inaccurate. Still, even after Friday night, the woman who has lived in her South Van Ness home since 1958 said, “I have nothing against the policia.”