The Southern California man who was pulled over and harassed by Mono County Sheriff’s deputies in July of 2013, Youssef Boulaalam, has settled out of court for $70,000. That’s about half of what he has spent on lawyer fees and other costs.
Boulaalam filed a complaint against the County and the law enforcement officers, Sergeant Richard Hahn and Mono County Sheriff’s Deputy Arturo Torres, who pulled him over, citing violation of his Fourth Amendment rights against unlawful search and seizure.
Boulaalam’s lawyer Allen Berrey told The Sheet that Mono County was willing to go to court with the complaint, but it would take another year or more to get through it. Berrey said the settlement amount is a slap in the face compared to what Boulaalam had been through, but Boulaalam wants to “move on with his life.”
Berrey explained that when taking a County entity to court, the action is first presented to the Board of Supervisors. The Board didn’t want to do much with the case, Berrey said and it was moving to trial. “The County was moving very slow, dragging things out,” Berrey said.
Boulaalam has received no apology from anyone in the County, according to Berrey.
Boulaalam was pulled over and later arrested on weapons charges on July 10, 2013. According to court records and the complaint provided by Berrey, Boulaalam was on a multi-day target shooting/fishing road-trip through many Western states. He took a shower at the hot springs and hit Highway 395 at about 8 p.m. After being tailgated by the deputies after leaving Travertine Hot Springs, he was pulled over for possibly driving while intoxicated. Torres stated in a supplemental report that “Travertine Hot Springs [is] a high crime area within the Bridgeport community where excessive alcohol consumption and drug use often takes place.”
The travel website, Lonely Planet calls the hot springs a “Must See” destination in the County.
When asked if he had any weapons in the vehicle, Boulaalam responded truthfully, yes. He had a 1936 Mauser rifle and a Walter P99 handgun. Both guns were hidden and safely stowed out of sight to prevent possible theft.
Torres found the handgun, but placed the gun on the backseat of Boulaalam’s car for photos that made it look like the gun was found there. The squad car dash-cam shows the gun being “staged” for the photos.
Boulaalam was arrested for a loaded firearm, a legal action in Nevada and other states he had been through on his trip, Berrey explained. Boulaalam made $35,000 bail and got out of jail only to go through a two-day ordeal to retrieve his vehicle from Lee Vining after being pulled over in Bridgeport.
The charges against Boulaalam were dropped. The judge hearing the case agreed with Berrey that Boulaalam was pulled over without probable cause. Berrey said Boulaalam spent more than $30,000 in legal fees defending himself in the process and, nevertheless, has a felony gun arrest on his record.