I’ll have to admit that the case against former NFL placekicker Tony Zendejas, who went to trial on four felony rape and sodomy charges last year, looked fairly compelling. As well as gruesome. But once the judge in the case began throwing out some of the charges, we knew that an acquittal might be in the air, and indeed, Zendejas was found not guilty in March. Now he’s suing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department for harassment and deprivation of civil rights.
Zendejas, a native of Mexico, made name for himself as a kicker with four NFL teams from 1985-’95, most notably the Houston Oilers and LA Rams. But he has continued to be a household name in the Los Angeles area, where his Zendejas Mexican Restaurant — one of seven LA-area restaurants owned by his family — has thrived. Well, it was thriving until the rape charges surfaced.
Zendejas says that his businesses have lost approximately $2 million over the course of the trial, a claim that really isn’t that hard to believe. And that’s not counting the $250,000 or so (he says) that he’s spent on his defense. Zendejas is suing the sheriff’s office for $2 million, saying, among other things, that law enforcement harassed himself and his customers, and in a peculiar development, began a brawl in his restaurant:
The suit alleges that sheriff’s deputies, specifically Dept. Don Nelson, falsely listed Zendejas Restaurant in San Dimas as the origin of significant criminal activity, which could have caused the former athlete to lose his licenses for the business from 2001 through 2008.
Zendejas claims the deputies listed his restaurants’ address on crime reports in place of addresses of surrounding restaurants where the crimes happened, wrote illegal parking tickets against Zendejas Restaurant customers, and participated in an off-duty bar brawl at the restaurant, destroying furniture, according to the suit.
So the case that began with the infamous “I knocked you out. I took that booty” statement now enters the final, litigation phase. We know that celebrities don’t get convicted in Los Angeles, but what happens with their subsequent lawsuits? We’ll find out.
And this isn’t really related, but nonetheless seems like a good place to note that O.J. Simpson’s lawyers officially filed an appeal today. Good luck with that.