By Hudson Sangree
Yolo County prosecutors will try today for the third time to secure guilty verdicts against two brothers accused of resisting arrest.
The brothers - Ernesto and Fermin Galvan - say they are the victims of brutality by West Sacramento police. Ernesto Galvan's skull remains scarred and misshapen, allegedly from the officers' baton blows.
Juries in two prior trials were unable to reach verdicts. Opening statements in the third trial of the Galvan brothers are scheduled for 9 a.m. today in Yolo Superior Court, Dept. 2, in Woodland.
In February, jurors said they had reached an impasse in the brothers' second trial. Judge Timothy Fall, who will be presiding again today, declared a mistrial.
A previous trial ended in a hung jury in November 2007.
The charges - and an unresolved federal lawsuit filed by the brothers against police - stem from a June 2005 incident, in which Ernesto Galvan was repeatedly shot with Taser stun guns and struck in the head with batons, according to the lawsuit.
His skull and face were fractured; he spent weeks in a coma and he has permanent mental and physical impairments, the lawsuit claims.
Photos at trial showed him lying in a pool of his own blood.
Officers struck Fermin Galvan with batons, leaving him bruised, unconscious and missing teeth, the lawsuit claims.
During closing arguments in February, prosecutor Carolyn Palumbo told jurors the injuries resulted from the brothers' crimes against officers, and they had no one to blame but themselves.
She said Officer Donald Schlie approached the brothers at about 3 a.m. June 14, 2005, in an area of West Sacramento known for crime.
Ernesto Galvan was sweating and appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance, she said. The officer ordered him to take his hands out of his pockets. When he didn't comply, the officer grabbed his arm, she said.
Ernesto Galvan pulled back and struck the officer in the chin, she said. "Right there, the fight was on, " she told jurors.
The ensuing struggle lasted several minutes and was joined by other officers. Taser stun guns had little effect on the out-of-control man, Palumbo said. The exhausted officers suffered cuts and bruises and feared for their safety, she said.
They struck Ernesto Galvan with batons, but ultimately used restraint, she argued. "He's alive, " Palumbo told jurors. "The officers didn't shoot him, and they could have."
Fermin Galvan came at an officer and had to be taken down, she said.
Defense lawyer Alan Greenstein told jurors in February that the officers were the aggressors against two men who'd done nothing wrong.
The brothers were standing under a street light, talking about work problems, he said. They hadn't committed any crimes, and they did not have drugs or weapons, he said.
Officers used excessive force and tried to cover themselves by filing charges, Greenstein argued. He called the officers' trial testimony inconsistent and unreliable.
"Don't you think they had to come up with some justification for why he (Ernesto Galvan) ended up on the ground lying in a pool of blood?" Greenstein asked the jurors.
The federal lawsuit asked for $12 million in damages. Guilty verdicts would make it much harder to secure monetary damages in the civil case.
Call The Bee's Hudson Sangree, (916) 321-1191.
Photo caption: Lisandro Galvan, 23, left, listens as his brothers who were defendants Fermin Galvan, 33, center, and Ernesto Galvan, 32, right, are briefed by their attorney at Yolo Superior Court in February. (Renee C. Byerfirstname.lastname@example.org)