A federal civil jury this month sided with a Huntington Beach Police Department (HBPD) officer accused of illegally removing a resident's five-year-old son from her custody in March 2010.
Jill Randall claimed HBPD officer Stan Watanabe violated the U.S. Constitution when he allowed Myeshia Hammond to take her child after the Orange County social worker determined the boy was in danger from Charles Dulyea, Randall's live-in boyfriend, who had "reportedly inflicted some serious physical injuries to his own two-month-old baby and who was on parole for weapons possession," according to court records.
Dulyea was not present at Randall's Limelight Circle home at the time Hammond decided without a warrant to take the boy to his biological father.
"[Watanabe] found the home to be 'very nice' and the child to be healthy and well cared for," Randall's lawyers complained. "He found no danger of harm to the child; and, there was no emergency situation which would require the child to be seized from the home. Watanabe knew from his academy training that parents and children have a constitutional right to remain together without government interference except in emergencies; and that it is unlawful to remove a child from the custody of its parents without exigent circumstances or a warrant."
But jurors believed Watanabe's stance that he wasn't involved in the social worker's decision to take the boy and was present only to "keep the peace" after being dispatched to the scene.
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On Feb. 18, U.S. District Court Judge Cormac J. Carney accepted the jury's verdict and closed the case.
Watanabe and HBPD are now entitled to recover litigation costs at a future hearing.