Two Pomona Police Department officers and a sergeant in the Internal Affairs Division pleaded not guilty Thursday to civil rights charges stemming from the arrest of a teenage boy at the Los Angeles County Fair two years ago and a suspected cover-up that followed.
PPD Cpl. Chad Kenneth Jensen, 50, is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law for allegedly beating the 16-year-old victim on Sept. 16, 2015. The indictment, handed down Wednesday, alleges that Jensen violated the teen’s constitutional rights, which include the right to be free from the use of unreasonable and unnecessary force, and that the assault resulted in bodily injury.
Jensen and his partner, Officer Prince Taylor Hutchinson, 31, are charged with preparing false reports that attempted to justify the use of force. The indictment alleges that, in a report prepared soon after the incident, Jensen falsely wrote that the teenager attempted to punch Jensen’s face, and that the boy came within arm’s reach of another officer who was escorting someone who had been placed under arrest.
Hutchinson similarly is accused of writing a report that falsely stated the teen had come within two to three feet of the officer who was escorting the arrestee, and that the alleged victim had “yelled at the crowd, trying to incite unrest” at the Pomona Fairplex.
The third defendant in the case — PPD Sgt. Michael Timothy Neaderbaomer, 49, who was assigned to the PPD’s Internal Affairs unit — is charged with obstruction of justice for making false statements to the alleged victim’s family designed to dissuade them from reporting the incident to law enforcement.
According to the indictment, Neaderbaomer “attempted to intimidate and corruptly persuade” the victim and his parents by falsely claiming that the PPD had a video showing the victim punching Jensen and by telling the teen’s mother that the parents would not be allowed to attend PPD’s interview of their son in relation to the citizen’s complaint, in violation of PPD policy.
A statement from PPD Chief Paul Capraro said Jensen, Hutchinson and Neaderbaomer are on administrative leave.
“The Pomona Police Department will continue to fully cooperate with the US DOJ, as it had since the beginning of their investigation,” Capraro said. “In order to not complicate or prejudice the federal investigation, the Pomona Police Department will defer all media inquires regarding the criminal investigation, indictment and future criminal proceedings to the US Department of Justice, which has the most up to date information available.
The officers entered not guilty pleas Thursday afternoon in Los Angeles federal court and were ordered released on $50,000 bond. A trial was scheduled for Dec. 19, but that date is expected to change.
According to the eight-count indictment, Neaderbaomer allegedly lied to FBI investigators looking into the complaint in April 2016, telling the agents he was willing to interview the alleged victim about the complaint with the teen’s attorney present. In fact, federal prosecutors contend, Neaderbaomer had told the mother that the teen would not be allowed to have his attorney present for any interview with the internal affairs division of PPD.”
Neaderbaomer also is charged with lying to the FBI when he denied telling the boy’s mother that PPD had a videotape of the teen punching an officer.
Additionally, Jensen and Hutchinson are charged with falsely testifying in a Superior Court hearing involving criminal charges against the alleged victim. The officers allegedly testified that the teen had posed an “immediate physical threat” to the officers who were escorting the arrestee at the fair.
In a lawsuit filed in federal court in August 2016 against the Pomona Police Department, Christian Aguilar — apparently the alleged victim in the case — contends that Jensen grabbed him as he was following behind other officers who were escorting his father and cousin off the fairgrounds, allegedly for public intoxication.
According to the complaint, Christian was filming the scene when Jensen struck him and Hutchinson placed him in a wrestling hold.
Aguilar was charged with two counts of obstructing a peace officer and his father was charged with being drunk in public.
The charges were ultimately dropped against both of them.
–City News Service
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