A Bakersfield man who was acquitted of injuring his infant son has filed a lawsuit alleging civil rights violations against the City of Bakersfield and accusing a police detective of fabricating evidence against him.
The lawsuit filed in federal court on behalf of 21-year-old Jesus Flores alleges deprivation of civil rights, interference with familial relationship and municipal liability in seeking compensatory damages and attorney fees, as well as exemplary and punitive damages against the defendants.
Flores spent two years in jail before a jury acquitted him of three felony charges June 16. He had faced up to life in prison if convicted.
Speaking Monday while flanked by David Faulkner, the attorney who represented him at trial, and Thomas C. Seabaugh, the attorney handling the lawsuit, Flores said he's going to do everything possible to regain custody of his son.
"At 2 months, my son was stripped away from me," he said.
"It was wrong what they did," he said of Bakersfield police.
City Attorney Ginny Gennaro said she could not comment as the city had not yet been served with the lawsuit.
In May 2015, Flores called 911 when his son appeared to have trouble breathing. The child was taken to the hospital, and medical testing suggested he was suffering from bleeding on the brain.
The lawsuit, however, says there was no evidence of trauma to the head, and followup testing showed evidence of pre-existing bleeding and bone abnormalities. Doctors found no medical evidence supporting an unequivocal conclusion of child abuse.
That evening, Detective Joseph Galland interviewed Flores at Bakersfield Police Department headquarters.
During the interview, Galland accused Flores of shaking the child, the lawsuit said. Flores denied it, saying, "That's my baby. I don't hit my baby."
Following repeated denials, Galland gave Flores a doll representing his son and "proceeded to bully and browbeat (Flores), trying to get (Flores) to violently shake the doll," according to the lawsuit.
Flores broke down in tears as he continued to maintain his innocence, the lawsuit said. He told Galland, in part, "You know, if I was you guys, I'd probably be doing the same thing, you know, trying to figure out exactly what happened to the baby, but I didn't do that to him, okay."
According to the lawsuit, Galland wrote in his report, "Jesus Flores showed us, using a doll, how he shook (the infant). He started as though he was rocking the baby in his lap, and then accelerated and showed a significantly more violent shaking motion."
The lawsuit said those and other statements by Galland were "fabricated, false and malicious."
In November 2015, while in foster care, the child was given another medical examination that showed he was experiencing "substantially the same" symptoms he suffered before being admitted to the hospital in May 2015, according to the lawsuit.
"Despite this clearly exculpatory evidence coming to light, (Flores) was not released and the prosecution continued," the lawsuit said.
Seabaugh said the case is part of a national controversy surrounding prosecutions based upon shaken baby syndrome, and how a child's injuries can be wrongfully diagnosed and parents wrongfully accused.
"Mr. Flores was the victim, we feel, of a terrible injustice," Seabaugh said.