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News / Clark County News

Trial to begin for Vancouver police officer captured on video threatening to use Taser on suspect’s genitals

After watching video, police chief called Andrea Mendoza's actions disturbing

By Becca Robbins, Columbian staff reporter
Published: April 18, 2024, 6:06am

The misdemeanor assault trial for Vancouver police Officer Andrea Mendoza begins today in Clark County District Court.

Mendoza, 38, was charged with fourth-degree assault after she was captured on video threatening to use her Taser on a man’s genitals. The trial is scheduled to last two days.

She was placed on administrative leave May 24, after her supervisor reviewed her use of force and notified the police chief. She remains on paid leave, police spokeswoman Kim Kapp said Wednesday.

The Vancouver Police Department previously released a video summary of the May 21 incident, including police body-worn camera footage and store surveillance video. In a statement, Vancouver Police Chief Jeff Mori called Mendoza’s actions disturbing.

Local advocacy groups, including the YWCA Clark County and NAACP of Vancouver, also released statements condemning Mendoza’s actions.

The police department opened an internal investigation, which is pending the outcome of the criminal trial, and referred the case to the Clark County Sheriff’s Office for independent review.

On July 20, the sheriff’s office forwarded its investigation to the prosecutor’s office for review. The prosecutor’s office filed the assault charge July 25, according to the police news release.

The police guild previously criticized the prosecutor’s office for charging Mendoza.

Mendoza and Officer Gabriel Patterson responded shortly before 10 p.m. May 21 to the Walmart at 221 N.E. 104th Ave., in central Vancouver. Loss prevention employees requested officers issue trespass notices to a man and woman they saw conceal merchandise and leave without paying, according to the probable cause affidavit filed in Mendoza’s case.

When they arrived, the officers approached two people who matched the pair’s description and told them they weren’t free to leave, the police news release stated. One officer grabbed the man, whom they later identified as Elijah Guffey-Prejean; the woman with him ran, according to the affidavit.

The two officers and Guffey-Prejean can be seen going to the ground, and a struggle ensues. At one point, Guffey-Prejean punched an officer in the face and kicked the other in the chest, according to the police news release. Patterson is later seen in the video rubbing his face.

The video shows the officers grappling with Guffey-Prejean as he tries to flee, before Patterson takes him back to the ground on his stomach. Mendoza can be seen using her Taser on Guffey-Prejean’s back, and he’s heard groaning before eventually saying, “I’m done.”

Guffey-Prejean is seen rolling onto his back, and Mendoza presses the Taser to his genitals. At one point, the officer tells him she will use the stun gun on his genitals if he doesn’t stop. Guffey-Prejean can be heard repeating, “I’m done.”

Investigators determined Mendoza held the Taser to Guffey-Prejean’s genitals for 24 seconds, court records state.

Guffey-Prejean was originally charged with third-degree assault and third-degree theft in Clark County Superior Court, but the charges were later dismissed. He was then charged in November in District Court with third-degree theft. He pleaded guilty in January and was sentenced to 364 days in jail, with most of that time suspended for two years, court records show.

Court records indicate prosecutors intend to call members of the Vancouver Police Department as witnesses, along with Guffey-Prejean.

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