Last month, CBS 5 Investigates told you about visitors to a Bay Area theme park who say they were beaten by security guards. Now there are serious questions about how local police handled many of those cases.
Tricia Tenaglia took her three daughters and her boyfriend to Vallejo's Six Flags Discovery Kingdom in August. "The girls were actually really excited," said Tenaglia. Until at the end of the day, they found the food court closed early. And with three hungry kids: "I was pretty upset," she said.
So Tenaglia asked two security guards how to file a complaint, but said "They weren't interested in helping me. I was disappointed and said basically, thanks for nothing, you know."
But as Tenaglia and her boyfriend began to walk away, the guards followed, separating them from her children then surrounding them. "It was really scary and they said don't stop. We said we're just trying to get our children there behind us," she said.
Then she said one guard started kicking the back of her boyfriend's feet and when his shoe came off. "He leans over to pick it up and the guy who had been kicking him jumped on top of him," Tenaglia said.
And then beat him, she said, in the face. "It was pretty horrible. I mean his face was really bad."
Tenaglia said as she held her daughter, the guards knocked her to her knees then pulled her six year old from her arms. "They kept saying that my kids were going to jail and we were going to jail," she said.
Yet Tenaglia and Scaco were the ones charged with battery. Their case is just one in a string of nearly a dozen arrests over more than two years found by CBS 5 Investigates. Arrests experts say raise questions about how security guards at Six Flags treat customers.
But those private security guards can only make citizen's arrests. Vallejo Police come to the scene and make the real arrest. So CBS 5 Investigates wanted to know what the police would say about those incidents.
CBS 5 asked Vallejo Police Lieutenant Abel Tenorio. "I'm not familiar with any of their cases," he said.
"Do you know whether the Vallejo police department has ever looked into the conduct of the guards in these incidents?" we asked him. His response: "I do not know that."
But he said Vallejo Police don't just rely on the guards' accounts, they do their own investigation. "And that's the same level of investigation as these officers would give to any call that they receive anywhere in Vallejo?" CBS 5 asked Tenorio. He responded, "Yes."
But not so said former police officer and Sacramento private security trainer Steve Caballero. "This is just not going to happen," he says. "They are not going to stand there and try to investigate the entire situation and talk to everybody and spend hours and hours and hours on that site."
And why? Caballero said because the police department is very stacked up.
Which could explain why in Tenaglia and Scaco's case, the arrest report doesn't mention something critical: A witness who supports the couple's version of events, describing in this statement provided to their lawyer how a "crew, 6 or so security guards" attacked Andrew Scaco, then "stomped him into the ground."
When CBS 5 Investigates read the statement to Lieutenant Tenorio he said: "Why didn't they approach the police officers who were there?"
"You're saying it's the witness's job to find the police officers?" CBS 5 asked him. "Isn't it the police officer's job to find the witnesses?" He responded, "No...yes. The police officers can try to find witnesses."
What about looking into serious injuries sustained by some guests in incidents, such as Corey Carlson? His run-in with Six Flags guards over the summer left him with broken facial bones, and a concussion.
"If they said that this had happened to them at the hands of police, don't you think people would be wondering what the heck happened?" we asked Lt. Tenorio.
"I would want to know what occurred to cause this incident, sure," he said.
"Isn't it the police officers' job to take a look at that and say you know, wait a minute, I want to know how that guy wound up looking that way?" CBS 5 asked Tenorio. "Isn't that what happens when they're out there to make the arrest?" was his reply.
To which CBS 5 asked him: "I don't know, that's the question."
"That's what's supposed to be taking place," he said.
But Caballero, who reviewed the nearly dozen cases found by CBS 5 Investigates, said what he sees as a lack of investigation raises disturbing questions.
"Even in some cases the police department would have a problem here, because they were at the scene. They should have found out what happened, investigated to the point where they would talk to the person that was injured, conduct a very thorough investigation," Caballero said.
Something Tenaglia believes never happened in their case. She said, "To me it's pretty absurd when there is two people with injuries that are being charged with battery. Who knows what else they could have done. It was really scary."
Six Flags defends their guards' training and says in all of those incidents the guests did something wrong. Here is the statement they released Thursday to CBS 5 Investigates:
"The safety and well being of the families that visit our park is our first and most important priority. We have a Code of Conduct that we expect all guests to adhere to in order to ensure a clean, safe, family-friendly experience for everyone. Our own internal investigation revealed that security personnel in these instances operated in accordance with training and protocols – their response was dictated by the behaviors and actions of the guests. We hold our employees to the highest of standards. We hold our guests to those same standards."