Oct. 29 (UPI) -- Three officers of the Pomona Police Department in California are facing federal charges for physically beating a juvenile and attempting to cover up the assault, the Department of Justice said Thursday.
PPD Corporal Chad Kenneth Jensen, 50, is charged with deprivation of rights under color of law for allegedly beating then-16-year-old Christian Aguilar, Jr. during an incident at the Los Angeles County Fair on Sept. 16, 2015. Jensen is also charged, along with his partner, PPD Officer Prince Taylor Hutchinson, 31, with preparing false reports that attempted to justify the assault.
PPD Sergeant Michael Timothy Neaderbaomer, the Internal Affairs Unit officer who was tasked with investigating the beating, is charged with obstruction of justice for allegedly making false statements to Aguilar's family that were "designed to dissuade them from reporting the incident to law enforcement," the DOJ said.He is also charged with making false statements to FBI agents who were investigating the alleged civil rights violation by Jensen.
According to a lawsuit filed last year by the victim's family's attorneys, the incident arose when police questioned Christian's father, Ignacio Aguilar, for allegedly being intoxicated in public at the fair. Police placed him under arrest and Christian began to record the arrest with his phone. This caught Jensen's attention and the officer then "forced Christian, face first, into the fence" before yanking the teen off the fence and punching him "with two unprovoked forearm strikes, even though Christian kept his hands down by his side."
In his police report, Jensen accused Christian of attempting to punch him and the teen was charged for obstructing a police officer at the time. Hutchinson filed a similar false report, the DOJ said, that backs up Jensen. The DOJ also alleged Hutchinson of falsely reporting that Aguilar "attempted to incite unrest among the crowd" at the fair.
The DOJ alleged Thursday that both officers lied in their reports.
All charges against Christian and his father were thrown out of L.A. County court last year.
The incident was caught on video by a bystander. But police placed the bystander under arrest at the time, as well, and edited out the part of Jensen punching Christian before submitting it as evidence. But the full video was obtained by Christian's attorney, David Gammill. In addition to charges against his client being dropped, the City of Pomona also paid a $500,000 civil lawsuit settlement to the Aguilar family.
Jensen's attorney, Michael Schwartz, told the Los Angeles Times that the video only showed "a small window into the entire event."