A Pomona police sergeant was acquitted Wednesday of an obstruction-of-justice charge stemming from the probe of a teenager’s violent arrest at the Fairplex, but jurors deadlocked on two charges of lying to the FBI.
According to the San Gabriel Valley Tribune, the six-man, six-woman jury unanimously acquitted Sgt. Michael Neaderbaomer of the obstruction charge, but deadlocked 11-to-1 in favor of acquittal on one count of lying to the FBI and 7-to-5 in favor of acquittal on the second count.
U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez declared a mistrial on the two lying counts. It was not immediately clear if federal prosecutors will seek a retrial.
Sgt. Michael Neaderbaomer — the third Pomona police officer to be tried in Los Angeles federal court in connection with the case — was accused of trying to dissuade the teen’s mother from pursuing an internal police investigation into his arrest.
Prosecutors said Neaderbaomer falsely told Erain Aguilar that he had video footage of her son, Christian Aguilar, punching an officer. Prosecutors also claimed the sergeant falsely insisted that if the teen wished to pursue a complaint for excessive force, the then-16-year-old boy would have to meet by himself with police officials for a videotaped interview.
The false statements counts stemmed from taped interviews with the FBI in which Neaderbaomer denied his earlier exchanges with the mother, who works as a dispatcher with the Irwindale Police Department.
Defense attorney Vicki Podberesky argued during the trial that the sergeant did not intend to lie and truly believed he had video of Christian Aguilar punching an officer during the encounter in September 2015 at the Pomona Fairplex.
The attorney alleged that when Neaderbaomer told the FBI in a recorded interview that he did not recall telling Erain Aguilar that he had video of her son punching an officer, the sergeant was relying on his memory of the exchange.
The trouble for Neaderbaomer began on Sept. 24, 2015, when Erain Aguilar walked into the department to file a complaint on behalf of her son. Weeks later, she received a call from Neaderbaomer in which the Internal Affairs Department sergeant allegedly tried to talk her out of pursuing the investigation into her son’s violent arrest at the Los Angeles County Fair.
“Instead of encouraging her and her son to come forward to share their side of the story in a safe and neutral environment, defendant did the opposite,” the government alleges in its trial memo.
Assistant U.S. Attorney Frances Lewis claimed in her opening statement that Neaderbaomer left the mother a series of voicemails in which he falsely told her that neither she nor her attorney would be allowed to attend an internal affairs interview with her son.
Two other Pomona officers — Chad Jensen and Prince Hutchinson — were initially charged with Neaderbaomer in 2017. But Gutierrez severed Neaderbaomer’s case from that of his colleagues.
In January, Jensen and Hutchinson were acquitted in a retrial of charges stemming from the violent arrest of the teen. The first trial ended last October with jurors deadlocked 11-1 in favor of guilt on all counts.
Two years ago, the city of Pomona paid Aguilar $500,000 to settle a civil lawsuit over the encounter.
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