On a night when Fullerton hired Michael Gennaco, head of the Los Angeles County's Office of Independent Review, to look into the death of homeless man Kelly Thomas following a clash with Fullerton cops, police in the Orange County city confirmed to City News Service that it has launched a probe into an earlier confrontation involving city officers that was caught on video.
In this October confrontation a man named Veth Mam was arrested for interfering with police after he accused cops of roughing up his friend. He was acquitted in part because the whole thing was captured on video.
An attorney indicates the iPhone video contradicts what cops said happened, and now Mam plans to sue.
News of that confrontation was first explained at the O.C. law blog Flock of Legals and echoed at our sister publication OC Weekly after KNX 1070 Newsradio first reported the existence of the video and we followed up.
Mam's Attorney, Garo Mardirossian, tells CNN:
We see the officer Kenton Hampton grab Mr. Mann, throw him on the ground, knee his back. And Mr. Mann offered no resistance. He was not committing a crime. He was doing nothing wrong. He was just videotaping a police officer's interaction with one of his friends.
Co-counsel Veronica R Guzman writes at Flock of Legals:
Fortunately, our client had video of the entire incident. Video that our client caught on his iPhone!!! With video in hand which clearly supported our client's case – that he didn't do it – we were sure this case would be dismissed. But no, it wasn't. Our case went to trial and our client was vindicated with all not guilty verdicts!
The case went to trial because the officer who alleged in his report that he pulled our client off the arresting officer's back, claimed that the incident occurred before the video started recording. Unfortunately for him, we made his perjury clear to the jury.
She writes that, lucky for Mam, even as he went down in his clash with cops, a bystander grabbed the iPhone and continued filming.
One of the officers in that confrontation appears to be Kenton Hampton, who was also reported to have been involved in the Thomas beating, according to our reading of reports, including OC Weekly's.
Mardirossian says he's going to file a federal suit against the Fullerton PD today.