July 14, 2024 9:23 pm

Glendale Police Officer Faces Felony Assault Charge in 2021 Incident

A Glendale police officer, Gonzalo Zendejas, 39, pleaded not guilty on Tuesday to a felony assault charge related to an incident three years ago at the Glendale Galleria, where he allegedly kicked a juvenile shoplifting suspect in the head. The charge was filed on June 3, 2021, by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office, and involves the alleged assault of a then-17-year-old boy during a struggle as police attempted to detain him.

The juvenile involved in the incident subsequently filed a civil case against the Glendale Police Department. According to his attorney, Antoine Williams of Williams and Seemen, the case was “resolved favorably” for the boy.

The Glendale Police Department released a statement following the filing of the case, explaining that the charge stemmed from a struggle with a shoplifting suspect who resisted detention inside a store. The department stated, “Officers used force to subdue the male and arrested him.”

Video footage of the incident, widely circulated on news outlets and social media, showed three of the four officers involved were not in uniform. According to Williams, the boy did not know they were police officers when they began trying to detain him.

The Glendale Police Department initiated an internal investigation immediately after the incident, placing all officers involved in the use of force on administrative leave. They also requested the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office to conduct a thorough and transparent review of the incident, including any potential criminal actions.

The department’s internal administrative investigation remains ongoing, pending the completion of the criminal investigation. They have provided the district attorney’s office with all relevant reports, statements, audio, and video to ensure a complete and thorough investigation of the facts and evidence.

Zendejas remains employed but has been on administrative leave since the incident, pending the outcome of the criminal investigation. Glendale police have stated that three other officers were also placed on administrative leave following the incident but have since been cleared and returned to full duty.

District Attorney George Gascón commented, “While police officers face an extraordinarily challenging and demanding job while working to protect our communities, this responsibility does not excuse actions that endanger others or undermine public trust. This incident is a serious violation of the duty to serve with integrity and respect.”

Zendejas is scheduled to return to a downtown Los Angeles courtroom on August 28, when a date will be set for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence for him to stand trial. If convicted, he could face up to three years in county jail, according to the district attorney’s office.