Fullerton Police to Pay $25,000 Settlement in False Arrest Case

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Fullerton has agreed to a $25,000 federal court settlement for the 2010 arrest of a man who apparently did nothing wrong, the OC Weekly reported.

The arresting officer was Kenton Hampton, who a year later was one of six Fullerton police officers involved in the fatal beating of 37-year-old Fullerton transient Kelly Thomas.

According to the Weekly, in June 2010, Edward Quinonez was smoking a cigarette on a Fullerton sidewalk when police made a traffic stop nearby. Hampton reportedly told Quinonez to move away, but he didn’t.

“According to court records, Hampton decided he needed to arrest Quinonez because he claimed he smelled the ‘strong odor of an alcoholic beverage emitting from his person,’ ” and his ” ‘eyes were red, bloodshot and watery, and his speech was slurred,’ ” the Weekly reported.

“The officer also added that the man couldn’t stand on his own; he then handcuffed him and slammed his head up against a wall,” the Weekly reported. His head was injured severely enough that Quinonez was taken to St. Jude Hospital for treatment.

The Weekly report states that court records, audio and video show Quinonez had no alcohol in his system, his speech was normal and he had no trouble walking or standing.

The article reported that Hampton later said Quinonez “may not have been drinking, but when I asked, ‘What’s your name?’ he said, ‘None of your fucking business.’ “

According to the Weekly, “During the arrest, Hampton was recorded telling his partner that he arrested Quinonez not for public intoxication, but rather because he just thought the man ‘was a fucking asshole’ who’d made a ‘fucking smart-ass comment.’ “

After Fullerton agreed to settle Quinonez’ case, the Weekly reported, U.S. District Judge James V. Selna issued a judgment July 5 in Quinonez’ favor and closed the case.

Hampton was not charged with a crime in connection with Thomas’ July 2011 death, but three other Fullerton officers are awaiting trial on charges of second-degree murder and involuntary manslaughter. They are Manuel Ramos, Jay Cicinelli and Joseph Wolfe.

Please contact Tracy Wood directly at twood@voiceofoc.org and follow her on Twitter: twitter.com/tracyVOC.

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