June 15, 2024 #1 Local News, Information and Event Source for the Century City/Westwood areas.

Charges dropped for man pepper-sprayed at Santa Monica park

Charging station for electric cars, close-up (Thinkstock).
Charging station for electric cars, close-up (Thinkstock).

A 36-year-old man who was pepper-sprayed by police while being detained for allegedly violating the curfew at a Santa Monica park and resisting arrest will not face criminal charges, according to the City Attorney’s Office.

Justin Palmer was arrested the night of April 21 while he was charging his electric car at a Virginia Avenue Park charging station, according to police and Palmer’s attorney.

According to Santa Monica police, officers were making a routine check of the park at Pico Boulevard and Cloverfield and told Palmer he needed to leave because the park closed at 11 p.m. Police said Palmer refused to leave or provide any identification, and when officers tried to arrest him, Palmer “actively resisted,” prompting officers to use pepper spray.

Palmer later hired an attorney who claimed officers were overly aggressive in the arrest. He also said the park had not yet closed when Palmer was approached by police, noting that other people were in the park at the same time charging their vehicles at the station.

A video taken by someone at the park was posted online, showing at least one other vehicle being charged at the same time Palmer was being arrested. According to the video, Palmer is a father of four and was approached by police around 10:30 p.m., 30 minutes before the park closed.

According to a City Attorney’s Office statement released Monday, prosecutors opted not to pursue charges against Palmer “after a careful examination of the circumstances.”

“Factors which precluded the filing of criminal charges were Mr. Palmer’s belief that being present in the parking lot did not constitute a park closure violation, signage at the entrance to the parking lot of Virginia Avenue Park did not clearly indicate that the parking lot is included in the park closure ordinance and a question concerning when Mr. Palmer arrived in the parking lot and when officers made their initial contact with him,” according to the City Attorney’s Office.

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