By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
A July 2011 jury handed the Fullerton PD and Reed a defeat; the following month Mam filed a federal lawsuit alleging that the officers, acting essentially as a gang of dishonest thugs with badges, had violated his constitutional rights. In a deposition, Nguyen changed his story once again. The newest version is that he must have seen someone choke Miller, but it wasn't Mam.
Lawyers for the police have strenuously attempted to crush the lawsuit before it reaches a jury. To their delight, U.S. District Court Judge Josephine Staton Tucker has weakened Mam's claims in several respects by deciding, for example, to dismiss a conspiracy count against the cops. But Tucker also noted Nguyen's numerous, brazen flip-flops, glaring inconsistencies in each of the officers' versions of events and declared that Nguyen and Miller lied on the witness stand at Mam's criminal trial.
"A trier-of-fact could determine that, when confronted with the physical impossibility of Mam being both [her emphasis] the person taking the video and the person in the video, Nguyen and Miller deliberately testified falsely at Mam's criminal trial and misled [prosecutor] Reed to sustain the prosecution," the judge ruled in granting the plaintiff's complaint of malicious prosecution. "Their fabrication caused the action to be maintained when it otherwise would have been dismissed."
In coming weeks—unless the police finally concede to a pre-trial settlement—a jury inside Santa Ana's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse will decide if they want to hold the Fullerton cops accountable for their actions. But, despite evidence for Mam's lawsuit, the outcome isn't guaranteed. Federal juries in Orange County are notoriously sympathetic to cops—most especially when their victim has dark skin.