Featured in the News: Obstruction of Justice in California

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]In September of 2015, violence broke out at the Los Angeles fair between Christian Agulair, a young man of only 16 years old, and no fewer than three members of the Pomona Police Department. This explosive outbreak was the result of police already arresting Ignacio Agulair, the young man’s father, for public intoxication. Despite a police report claiming that Agulair was slurring his speech and unable to take care of himself, Agulair maintained that he had only had a “beer and a half” and was asking to be administered a field sobriety test or a breathalyzer. Pomona officers evidently refused.

Officers’ Original Testimony and Charges against Agulair

Christian Agulair began to follow the officers that were arresting his father, recording them as he walked. Officers on the tape can be heard telling Agulair to stop filming. A few seconds later, an officer walked Agulair to a wall. A video recorded by an unrelated fairgoer shows Agulair being spun around and punched in the jaw. What follows is a brutal beating by three officers of the Pomona police department, one of them with a baton.

Agulair was charged with resisting arrest and obstruction of justice, but those charges were dropped in light of the evidence shown on the video footage. This was an enormous relief to Agulair and his family, as obstruction of justice in California is a very serious crime. Police claimed that Agulair was “following too closely,” and that police suspected that he may try to “spring” his detained father from police custody, or worse yet, attempt to attack the officers. Gammill Law, Agulair’s legal representation and a Los Angeles trial lawyer, claimed that this is simply not true, and just by looking at the video one could see the false nature of this claim.

Signs of Police Tampering with Evidence

It was by this disagreement that a civil lawsuit was filed against the Pomona Police Department for the supposed tampering of evidence of the tape that was shot by the bystander. This bystander was also arrested for public intoxication, but was released the next day without being charged. However, the police did keep his phone for two days. The entirety of the police’s claim rested on the assumption that Agulair did indeed instigate the violent encounter. However, the police’s version of the tape was missing the first few seconds, which, as David Gammill pointed out, made all the difference in the world. The first few seconds of the tape, which prove that Agulair did nothing to instigate the brutal, gang-style beating that was delivered him, had been removed by the police.[/vc_column_text][vc_column_text]

Obstruction of Justice Charges Filed Against Three Officers

Gammill began to gather evidence, including the unaltered tape, to be used to file a civil suit against the officers, who had since been identified as Cpl. Chad Kenneth Jensen, age 50, and his partner Prince Taylor Hutchenson, age 31.

After a lengthy investigation, it was found that Jensen could indeed be charged with deprivation of rights under color of law, as he was the primary suspect in the case of brutalizing Agulair. This of course constituted a violation of Agulair’s basic rights. Furthermore, both Jensen and Hutchenson were charged with preparing false reports, including the statements that Agulair had been following to close and had become aggressive with police officers. Jensen himself had gone as far as to claim in Agulair’s indictment that the youth had attempted to strike him in the face, a claim that was proven to be laughably false in the wake of the video evidence. Hutchenson made a false claim in his report as well, claiming that Agulair had attempted to “incite unrest” at the fair as his father was being transported.

Besides falsifying their reports, the officers were suspected of giving false testimony during Agulair’s court proceedings wherein he was cleared of obstruction of justice charges. Ironically, this indictment itself carried an obstruction of justice charge for the two officers themselves. A third police officer, Sgt. Michael Timothy Neaderbaomer, who had been assigned to the internal affairs investigation, was charged with obstruction of justice by way of persuasion and intimidation towards Agulair’s family.

All three officers were indicted in October of 2017, nearly two years after the original incident. The Agulair family reported a sense of overwhelming relief with the service provided by our team at Gammill Law. The hope being that the officers would face what they had so brazenly deprived a young Agulair of those two years ago, being decent, American justice and fairness.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]