Lawsuits against city of Pleasanton not uncommon

Complaints can trigger internal investigations

Pleasanton police Chief Dave Spiller confirms there is an internal investigation into actions of a K-9 officer, but such investigations, which spring from claims filed with the city, are apparently not unusual.

"There is an administrative investigation. I am conducting an investigation on allegations asserted in the claim," said Spiller, adding that he is prohibited from speaking about specifics of the investigation. Spiller noted that the police officers' bill of rights, POBAR, "only allows disclosures at the conclusion of an investigation if discipline was advised."

Claims against police -- the precursors to lawsuits -- are relatively common, according to Pleasanton City Attorney Jonathan Lowell.

"I'd say that we get maybe one or two claims a year related to the Police Department," he said.

Lowell explained that internal investigations are triggered by the filing of a citizen complaint or when the Police Department becomes aware of a potential violation of departmental policy, city policy, or state or federal law.

He said anyone can take legal action against the city or threaten to take it.

"Under our system of government, anyone may file a claim, file a complaint and file a lawsuit," he said.

K-9 Officer Tim Martens is named in one of two current claims against the city. In that claim, Brian Lancaster is asking for in excess of $1 million on allegations that Martens and other unknown officers "improperly obtained confidential information, improperly used and disclosed false and confidential information and made illegal search, seizure and arrest based on use of improperly obtained information and falsified evidence."

Five charges against Lancaster, including possession of methamphetamine and possession of paraphernalia, were dismissed last week for lack of evidence, according to the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.

But Pleasanton's police officers are also named in a claim filed by Occupy Oakland, which claims they were part of an attack on a group of 500 to 1,000 protesters. Pleasanton police were called to the protest as part of a mutual aid agreement.

Martens was specifically named in a claim filed by a neighbor on Sept. 13, 2011. In the claim, Jeffrey Harlan asks for $2.16 million and says Martens and other officers "derived us of our civil rights, they have illegally searched my home, videotaped our activities and threatened us and eventually arrested me when I called for help."

Harlan claimed he suffered from neck trauma and an acceleration of his epilepsy, which prevented him from returning to work.

After a claim is rejected by the city -- as was the case with Harlan's -- the next step would be to file a lawsuit. That hasn't happened in that case, but did in another, where Martens was apparently part of a large contingent of officers who responded to a complaint about a man and his family who refused to vacate their room at the Hyatt Summerfield hotel in the 4500 block of Chabot Drive.

That claim was filed Sept. 2, 2010, by Gene Forte of Los Banos, asking for $1 million. It contends "several Pleasanton police officers jumped and assaulted Forte with no warning, pushing him onto the ground and then strapping him against his will onto a gurney. ... He was handcuffed to the gurney and could not move."

Although that claim was also rejected, Forte took the next step, filing a lawsuit on March 4, 2011, in which he claims officers Jerry Nicely, Mardene Lashley and Martens, along with other officers named as John Does, wrongfully evicted Forte and his family, falsely arrested and falsely imprisoned the entire family, caused emotional distress, unlawfully detained the family, and violated their civil rights.

However, Forte has also sued Merced County District Attorney Larry Morse, Merced County Sheriff Mark Pazin, Deputy Chris Picinich and several Merced County deputies, and claims he's the target of a conspiracy that includes everyone from Leon Panetta, when he was director of the CIA, to officials in Merced and Monterey counties to Congresswoman Nancy Pelosi to police officers up and down the state, including those in Pleasanton.

Pleasanton police are also named in a lawsuit filed in late June by the operators of Club Neo after it was placed on probation by the City Council, which ordered the nightclub in Gateway Square to cut the number of patrons allowed in the club by nearly one-third and to close its two bars by 1 a.m. That move came after a series of disturbances both inside and in the parking lot outside in December and January, including a shooting Jan. 14 that injured a Fremont patron.

That lawsuit asks for a jury trial, claiming civil rights violations and violations of the first and 14th amendments to the constitution.

Lowell said the city takes all legal matters seriously.

"We investigate all claims, complaints and lawsuits and respond accordingly, and in most situations the claims are rejected," he said.


Like this comment
Posted by
a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows
on Aug 3, 2012 at 1:31 pm

This doesn't even make sense! Brian Lancaster is asking for in excess of $1 million on allegations that:

1. Martens and other unknown officers improperly obtained confidential information. How? Maybe someone can shine some light on this... Someone gave the PD a tip that Brian Lancaster is a dangerous man? Were they stalking Brian Lancaster? Did they pull his name out of a hat and decide to target him? Why was it Tim Martens a week ago and now it is “Tim Martens and other unknown officers.” What?
2. Improperly used false and confidential information. Why was this information confidential 3 weeks ago and as of Saturday it is “false” and confidential?

3. Improperly obtained false and confidential information. How do you improperly obtain false information? What was the confidential information Tim Martens used to pull Brian over for bad tags? If the registration sticker is on the outside of your car for the world to see and its not the right tag, you’re pretty much letting the world know you’re not complying with the law.

4. Made an illegal search, seizure and arrest based on use of improperly obtained information and falsified evidence. What falsified "evidence"? Brian Lancaster was arrested for stealing a nice purse, a petty theft, from Stoneridge Mall in 2009. You cannot illegally search someone who is on probation subject to a search clause. I don’t think it’s illegal to pull someone over if they have no registration stickers. Brian Lancaster waived his constitutional rights from illegal search and seizure when he accepted the terms and conditions of his probation. This view is sometimes stated in terms of the waiver of privacy expectations; specifically, that probationers can have no reasonable expectation of privacy as to places and things they agreed could be searched pursuant to the terms of probation. See People v. Bravo (1987) 43 Cal.3d 600, 607-10; People v. Viers (1991) 1 Cal.App.4th 990, 993.

Like this comment
Posted by TeeShot
a resident of another community
on Aug 3, 2012 at 2:57 pm

You should not comment on public boards. You are known around Pleasanton and its surrounding communities, and not in any ways you should be proud of. You were once friends with Mr. Lancaster, but now, in the same manner of character you have exhibited since high school (didn't you failed to graduate?), you are quick to smear another person, even when your facts are not complete or correct.

I know it makes you feel like you are a better person when you put other people down, but it really is time for you to grow up and get a job and take care of your own life. Perhaps, rather than butting into the custody arrangements of other people, you should focus on regaining custody of your own children.. Or at least gaining their respect.

Like this comment
Posted by Hole in one
a resident of Danville
on Aug 3, 2012 at 3:05 pm

Seems to me that Kaykeez is most likely Leslie Regina spouting off her legal ramblings that make no sence. Lesley stick to family law your first venture outside that have not gone well for you.

Like this comment
Posted by Amanda
a resident of Del Prado
on Aug 3, 2012 at 4:16 pm

It seems like all convicts and criminals think that there's a conspiracy against them, especially meth addicts. They're delusional and file lawsuits looking to blame someone for their feelings of inadequacy and paranoia. They omit the details like a "search clause" which are often effective since it's hard for thieves and liars to behave for very long. They are known to threaten and boast online leaving a clear behaviorial pattern of abuse. These degenerates are so self absorbed they drain our courts with dirty laundry and finger pointing years after the fact. A real man doesn't let his family down and wouldn't be seeking money to dry his tears when then only one to blame is himself. Lost your girl and your kids years ago and guess what? We don't care, we have real concerns in the Tri-Valley like the stiffs that have been popping up lately. I think were all sick of Lancaster and his grandstanding by now. Criminal gets off on a technicality with a bullseye on his back.

Like this comment
Posted by Jess
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Weird! I know someone in the exact same situation! The dad owes almost $45,000 in back child support, hasn't tried to see his kids in months. His only motive is revenge against his ex wife and he's hell bent on getting it. He thought you can tell a lie over and over to people and they will believe it... For a short period of time people actually did.

Once everything was finally uncovered and everyone actually saw the type of person he was. It was only a matter of time that he was exposed for the liar, drug addict, abusive, unemployed, alcoholic father he was. It was really sad to see, most people didn't believe it. His friends are all in denial about his drug use, and the ones who aren't are using with him. So sad for his two beautiful girls.

He tried to stir up and conspire a story compelling enough for the media vultures to latch onto and that also worked. Smoke and mirrors as he called it. But once again his plan was foiled by to much actually documentation that was legally obtained, versus illegal like in Mr. Lancaster's case.

Anyways, Good luck to you Mr. Lancaster, I hope you too can provide enough documentation to back up your claims which look like you have already made.

Like this comment
Posted by bullseye
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 3, 2012 at 4:26 pm

Sounds like the PPD has the bullseye on their back. Good luck to you Mr. Lancaster.

Like this comment
Posted by John H.
a resident of Downtown
on Aug 3, 2012 at 4:49 pm

@ Hole in one

Or else?

Like this comment
Posted by Quazi motto
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Aug 3, 2012 at 5:47 pm

People are gonna hate on this dad because he actually wants to see his kids? That makes no sense. It's the mom who seems crazy. Clearly these officers have done something wrong or else this wouldnt even hit the news. Kaykeez u sound absolutely obsessed with this case. Your ramblings only make u look like a bitter Betty. Let us guess you r either an ex girlfriend the attorney the ex wife or your a mother who herself is a horrid parent. I'm gonna guess it's #1 & #4. Haters gonna hate. The law is gonna serve justice and kudos to the dad who's taking all these horrible comments in stride. F. Marshall

Like this comment
Posted by Chris ornales
a resident of Heritage Oaks
on Aug 3, 2012 at 5:56 pm

[removed because of excessive posting by one commenter using multiple names]

Like this comment
Posted by Bruce J.
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 3, 2012 at 7:40 pm

Brian Lancaster should stop impersonating people on PW and impersonate someone with a job.

Like this comment
Posted by louis
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 3, 2012 at 7:43 pm

Only one convicted convict in this story. It's not Brian.

Like this comment
Posted by Sarah
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2012 at 7:56 pm


Like this comment
Posted by louis
a resident of Birdland
on Aug 3, 2012 at 8:27 pm


Like this comment
Posted by Keepin it real
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 3, 2012 at 8:40 pm

[removed because of excessive posting by one commenter using multiple names]

Like this comment
Posted by Some Dude
a resident of Carriage Gardens
on Aug 3, 2012 at 9:18 pm

Wow, someone with a very close, personal connection with this Brian Lancaster (or more likely the man himself) seems to be doing a very poor job of pretending to be random different members of the public here. If it's someone trying to help him out, it's not working. In fact, this stuff seems to paint the guy as an obsessive egomaniac micromanaging his perception on a small-town forum. For example, claiming to know who the other anonymous members are is ridiculous and seems like a desperate attempt to discredit any negative commentators. If you're trying to protect this guy's reputation, the best thing you can do is stop the weak and childish posting and let time move on.

Like this comment
Posted by Jess
a resident of Amador Estates
on Aug 3, 2012 at 9:42 pm

Hey Keepin it real - don't tell us what to think and what we can and cannot post. None of this would be going on and ur name wouldnt be "dragged around town like a ragdoll" if u didnt cast yourself into the media spotlight on issues of public concern. If u truly wished to keep this as a private family matter then u would not have gone to the media; but u did. Therefore, the public has every right to comment. Its called free speech. If u can't handle the negative things people are saying then u shouldnt have started any of this. The truth will land your butt in prison!

U cant walk into the PPD with falsified docs and rearranged exhibits to pleadings and expect a happy ending for urself.

Like this comment
Posted by Oh Sorry...
a resident of Bridle Creek
on Aug 3, 2012 at 9:43 pm

Keepin it real - thanks for reminding the public to focus on what a victim Brian Lancaster is. Not everyone is going to have the same opinion about Brian Lancaster. Period. If Brian Lancaster can't hear negative comments about himself he should have kept quiet. Now that Brian Lancaster cast himself into the spotlight, he has to accept the consequences. He has to work for his million dollars just like the rest of us work for food and our own homes. I am sure he will soon post under a name which implies power like "B OBAMA" or "GOD" to tell us what we can and can't post about.

Like this comment
Posted by Lesley R.
a resident of Bonde Ranch
on Aug 3, 2012 at 10:09 pm

@ Some dude - you seem to have the real inside track. Kep up your Bi Polar medicated Rants :)

Like this comment
Posted by keepin it real
a resident of Vineyard Avenue
on Aug 3, 2012 at 10:20 pm

[removed because of excessive posting by one commenter using multiple names]

Like this comment
Posted by J Gomez
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2012 at 10:44 pm

I found this online, thought others might like to read about the Lancaster drug arrest (which was dropped for reasons stated above by Lancaster). You really want this guy running around on the streets?

Web Link

Like this comment
Posted by Rachel Giannola
a resident of Another Pleasanton neighborhood
on Aug 3, 2012 at 10:56 pm

(Post removed by Pleasanton Weekly Online staff for containing unverified or personal information.)

Like this comment
Posted by Matt P.
a resident of Foothill Knolls
on Aug 4, 2012 at 12:08 am

Matt P. is a registered user.

[Post removed because it contained unverified accusations[

Sorry, but further commenting on this topic has been closed.

Salami, Salami … Baloney
By Tom Cushing | 25 comments | 604 views

Time for new collaboration between city and school district
By Tim Hunt | 2 comments | 476 views