Fullerton Police Chief David Hendricks quit the Police Department Friday morning, while under investigation by the District Attorney’s office for an alleged fight at a concert in Irvine Aug. 24.
“I am honored to have had the privilege of leading the men and women of the Fullerton Police Department,” stated Hendricks in a news release sent out by the city. “I am grateful to the City Council and City Manager Ken Domer for the opportunity to serve the Fullerton community as Chief of Police.”
The news release doesn’t state why Hendricks quit or mention the fight.
Hendricks and Captain Thomas Oliveras, who was also involved in the alleged fight with emergency technicians, are on paid leave while the District Attorney’s office is reviewing the fight at Irvine’s FivePoint Amphitheater.
In a closed session meeting Sep. 4, the Fullerton City Council opted to hire an outside attorney in an “administrative investigation” and authorized City Manager Ken Domer to look for an interim police chief.
“Well, with his resignation there’s no point in carrying it (the investigation) forward. It was in process, let me say. There could have been some other action I suppose. You got all these things pending out there then he decided to resign, so that would conclude our need to have the investigation,” Mayor Doug Chaffee said in a Nov. 2 phone interview.
Chaffee said he didn’t know why Hendricks quit.
Captain Bob Dunn is the interim police chief until the Fullerton City Council hires a new one.
“We will hire a recruiter and that will start the process … the choice will be up to the Council,” Chaffee said.
District Attorney spokeswoman Michelle Van Der Linden said the investigation still is ongoing and the office doesn’t have an estimated completion date.
Fullerton and Irvine have refused to release details about the Aug. 23 fight and have sent the District Attorney the police report, body camera footage and audio of the incident.
The DA won’t release any details about the investigation either.
Friends For Fullerton’s Future, a local blog about city politics, broke the story Aug. 26 when it posted a memo from Domer to the police department about the fight.
After Voice of OC published this news story, Friends for Fullerton’s Future published screenshots of the Irvine police report about the alleged fight. The screen shots don’t show which officer filed the report.
“Based on statements provided, it was determined Hendricks used physical force on [name blanked out] by pushing him while he was actively working as an EMT. It was also determined Oliveras used physical force on [an EMT] by grabbing and applying pressure to [unnamed EMT’s] neck as [the EMT] attempted to medically treat Hendricks’ wife. Furthermore, based on the statements provided, it was determined used physical force by pushing [an EMT] multiple times when she was actively working as an EMT. Based on these statements, it was determined both Hendricks and Oliveras were in violation of CPC 240; Assault and CPC 243(b); Battery on an EMT,” reads the report.
Hendricks’ wife was being treated by EMTs at the concert after she had fallen, but the report said he insisted on taking her home in an Uber ride.
“I heard the male subject (Hendricks) say, ‘I’m a fucking cop’ and then continue talking about wanting to take an Uber home,” reads the report, adding that Hendricks tried walking away, but was stopped by the two responding officers. “Don’t fuck with me,” Hendricks told officers, according to the report.
The report also noted the EMT didn’t wish to press charges and that Hendricks smelled of alcohol.
“Based upon my training and experience it appeared to me that Hendricks was under the influence of an alcoholic beverage,” states the report.
“During my entire contact with Hendricks he was confrontational, uncooperative, and unprofessional,” reads the report.
Hendricks, who came from Long Beach police, was hired in July 2017 to replace former Chief Danny Hughes.
Controversy struck the department during the final weeks of Hughes at the helm.
Hughes retired in November 2016 to take a job at Disneyland, but not before former City Manager Joe Felz’ 2016 election night car crash.
There was no breathalyzer test given to Felz that night. Although he was initially charged with driving under the influence in March 2017, Felz pleaded guilty to reckless driving involving alcohol last December.
“I provided the above directions to the field sergeant and also briefly spoke to the city manager on the phone to explain what protocol would be followed. The sergeant conducted the assessment and made the determination that the city manager had consumed alcohol, but did not meet the criteria of 23152(a) CVC (driving under the influence). The city manager was driven home and his vehicle was towed,” reads Hughes’ Nov. 9, 2016 memo to council members.
The DA filed a felony charge against former police Sergeant Rodger Jeffrey Corbett Sep. 4 for falsifying a police report about Felz’s car crash on Nov. 9, 2016.The maximum sentence is three years in prison, if he’s convicted.
At an unrelated April 2017 public nuisance hearing, Hughes — who was not under oath — said the investigation was handled with “objectivity.”
“What was special about this was that it involved our city manager. So, in cases that involve a city council member, city manager, another city employee … those are cases that generally speaking they would wake a police chief up and let them know about that,” Hughes said, adding that he explained the protocol to Felz.
Hughes took over after former Chief Michael Sellers retired in February 2012, following the July 5, 2011 police beating death of mentally ill homeless man Kelly Thomas that sparked national publicity and led to the recall of three city council members.
Two of the officers, Joseph Wolfe and Jay Cicinelli, sued Fullerton in June to get their jobs back.
Orange County Superior Court Judge David Chaffee remanded the Cicinelli and Wolfe hiring decision back to the City Council Sept. 14.
The City Council has held closed session talks about it, but nothing has been reported out yet.
And in a separate case, Gerry Serrano, head of the Santa Ana police union and a candidate for Garden Grove City Council, was arrested for a possible DUI in 2011, but wasn’t prosecuted by the DA, according to reporting this week from the OC Weekly.
“But public safety must have been far from Serrano’s mind on Oct. 9, 2011, when Westminster police arrested him for a DUI after he plowed into the back of a Subaru Impreza carrying two passengers, including a 7-year-old child,” wrote OC Weekly’s Gabriel San Roman Nov. 1.
Serrano was hostile to Westminster police officer Paul Walker, according to Walker’s police report obtained by the OC Weekly.
“I ignored Serrano as I believed it was simply the alcohol that was impairing his judgement … Based on Serrano’s behavior in jail, it was determined unsafe for (nurse Lynn) Fulton to perform the (alcohol) test,” Walker wrote.
Van Der Linden told the OC Weekly there wasn’t enough evidence for the DA to press charges.
“I can confirm this case was received and rejected due to insufficient evidence,” says Michelle Van Der Linden, an OCDA spokeswoman. “A [field sobriety test] was not conducted and blood was not taken, so there was no evidence to prove the case beyond a reasonable doubt.”
Serrano told the OC Weekly he did nothing wrong.
“In 2011, I was involved in a non-injury traffic accident and it was determined I did not break the law,” Serrano wrote in an email. “My record is clean.”
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC reporter who covers south Orange County and Fullerton. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio