Lemon Grove Councilman Mendoza Resigns Amidst Deposition Battles

Councilman Matt Mendoza has officially resigned from his position in Lemon Grove. Mayor Racquel Vasquez read Mr. Mendoza’s resignation at the November 5th, 2019 Lemon Grove City Council Meeting.

Mendoza’s term was set to end in 2020, and he had been serving on council since 2016. In Mendoza’s resignation announcement, Mayor Vasquez stated that city council will hold a closed-door session on how to fill Mendoza’s seat.

Mendoza’s resignation comes just six weeks before the jury trial for a lawsuit against the City of Lemon Grove and Councilman Arambula. When the details of the lawsuit came out in early 2018, Mendoza spoke against the actions of his fellow city councilmember and city staff, further requesting an internal investigation of the matter. 

The lawsuit claimant’s attorney, Cory Briggs, has been attempting to depose Councilman Matt Mendoza for months. Judge Richard S. Whitney’s tentative ruling allows Briggs to depose Matt Mendoza. It appears the city does not want Mendoza to be deposed. Allegedly, the City of Lemon Grove’s attorneys, Horton, Oberrecht, Kirkpatrick & Martha, are arguing that Mendoza cannot be deposed as he is in Florida indefinitely. It’s unclear how long Mendoza has been in Florida. The trial date is set for December 19, 2019.

“For lack of a better word, the whole thing stinks. The more I think about it, it’s just bad, bad business… As they talk it gets weirder; that’s why I asked for an investigation. I want to know because the city’s on the hook. If Mr. Williams does go through and file papers on Councilman Arambula and the city, then we’re going to have a problem,” Mendoza said in 2018.

In July, 2017, Chris Williams was enthusiastic over entering into Lemon Grove’s medical marijuana market. Williams was invited by Councilman David Arambula to his home for a meeting to discuss Williams’ multiple dispensary permit applications. The night went sour as Williams was assaulted by the Councilman, and wound up in the emergency room suffering from a concussion, fractured ribs, contusions, and bite marks.

The story wasn’t publicized until Williams filed a claim against the City of Lemon Grove and Councilman Arambula in January 2018. Lemon Grove held a closed session to discuss the claim. Mendoza told Candid Chronicle that only about “five percent” of the story was disclosed during this closed session. 

“They kind of told us ‘there’s a little problem there,’ and then to find out this like this,” Mendoza told Candid Chronicle.

Mendoza read about the assault claim during a visit to his father in March 2018. Mendoza said his father presented him with a copy of the San Diego Union Tribune’s coverage of the assault claim. The coverage included, in Mendoza’s words, the “gory details” of the assault, things Mendoza was completely unaware of prior to reading San Diego Union Tribune’s article. 

Mendoza said it was never disclosed that Chris Williams had applied for multiple cannabis dispensary permits, and that he was not shown the sheriff’s report of the assault. He said the photos of Williams’ injuries shocked him. 

“If I would have seen the police report, and Mr. Williams’ face, I would have said this is a little bit more than a scuffle,” said Mendoza.

Once Councilman Matt Mendoza learned more about the assault, he spoke out against the actions of the city officials who he claims hid the harrowing story from him. Mendoza requested an internal investigation be done by James Lough, former city attorney, and City Manager Lydia Romero.

It is yet to be confirmed whether Mendoza will be deposed.

Matt Mendoza, City Manager Lydia Romero, Mayor Racquel Vasquez, and Councilmembers David Arambula, Jennifer Mendoza, and Jerry Jones were contacted for comment. To date of publication, no comment has been received.

Chris Williams is a founder of Candid Chronicle.