As a criminal defense attorney, sometimes it can be easy to think that our cases effect only our clients and that the facts of a case will never be significant outside of that client’s life. But other times, a case has greater significance than you could have ever guessed.
This past July, I was privileged to sit as co-counsel to Attorney David Borsari on a misdemeanor case in Fullerton. Our client was charged with resisting arrest, and assault and battery on a peace officer – a Fullerton Police Officer. The report clearly described that while one officer was trying to subdue a belligerent suspect (our client’s friend), our client was alleged to have interfered with Fullerton Police officers by jumping on the back of the arresting officer, and trying to choke the officer while on the officer’s back. Reading the report alone, we were thinking this could be a difficult case.
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. It was also clear in the video. This officer, testified that he was the first officer on the scene to help out the arresting officer dealing with the other belligerent suspect. As the first officer on the scene, he testified that the first thing he did was pull our client off the arresting officer’s back. He testified that he was 100% sure that it was our client on that officer’s neck. The incident is all on video, except that the person on the arresting officer is not our client, since our client was the one videotaping!!!
Later in the video, another “well-trained” Fullerton Police officer smacks the iPhone from our client’s hands and throws him around like a rag doll. Our client falls limp under the assault. This is all on camera, because another bystander picked up the iPhone to capture our client’s assault on video too. There is some speculation that the officer who assaulted our client is one of the six officers who used excessive force against the latest Fullerton Police Department victim, Kelly Thomas.
We can only hope that this officer gets what is coming to him (criminal charges), and the Fullerton Police Department takes note of its rogue officers and does something to instill trust within its community again.
View the video here.