As he sat on a nearby bus and watched Fullerton police officers beat Kelly Thomas, Eddie Quiñonez recognized a familiar face.
"I realized it right away. I did recognize him," Quiñonez said of Officer Kenton Hampton, who Quiñonez allegedly saw punching and kneeing Thomas in the face and body.
Hampton was the same officer who, about a year earlier, arrested Quiñonez for supposed public drunkenness and "threw [his] head against the wall."
At a press conference in Los Angeles today, Quiñonez sat alongside Ron Thomas, Attorney Garo Mardirossian and Veth Mam, who while videotaping a friend's arrest in October 2010, allegedly had his cell phone knocked from his hand by Officer Hampton.
Veth Mam, Eddie Quiñonez, Garo Mardirossian and Ron Thomas
Marisa Gerber/ OCweekly
For now, Mardirossian has only filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mam, but the LA-based personal injury lawyer says lawsuits on behalf of Kelly Thomas and Eddie Quiñonez "will be forthcoming."
Quiñonez says he was standing on a sidewalk watching as police cited a man for a traffic infraction last June, when Hampton approached him. "It's really hard for me to trust being around a cop," says Quiñonez, who saw a police officer in Riverside fatally shoot his father a few years ago.
According to a Fullerton Police Department citizen complaint that Quiñonez filed a few days after his arrest, Quiñonez told Hampton: "Your people shot my dad." After that, Hampton put Quiñonez in handcuffs and allegedly "assaulted [him] by slamming [his] head against the wall," according to the citizen complaint. "He had to stutter to think about what charge to get me on," Quiñonez said of Hampton, who then said he was arresting him for being drunk in public. Quiñonez, however, had his blood tested later that night and didn't have any alcohol in his body, Mardirossian said at the press conference.
Quiñonez reported the incident to the Fullerton Police Department, Mardirossian said. "This report fell on deaf ears. Fullerton police did nothing. They gave him the run-around."
Mardirossian expressed frustration that immediate disciplinary actions weren't taken against Hampton -- who he described as being of "rather large stature" and having a "fierce temper." "Had the department listened, [Hampton] wouldn't have been there to brutalize Veth Mam. Had they listened to Eddie or Veth Mam, we wouldn't have had Kelly brutalized."
Quiñonez says Hampton led the charge in Kelly's beating. "I just saw that he ignited the whole thing." After the beating started, Quiñonez said none of the officers held back. "They were all beating him up," Quiñonez said, adding the he remembers the beating lasting for about 20 minutes.
Like the Fullerton Police Department, Carpenter Rothans and Dumont -- the defense law firm representing Officer Kenton Hampton -- didn't return a phone call for comment.
Attorney Garo Mardirossian holds a picture of Officer Kenton Hampton.