In June 2010, Edward Quinonez was standing on a public sidewalk smoking a cigarette when Fullerton Police Department officers conducted a traffic stop nearby. Officer Kenton Hampton didn't like Quinonez watching the incident and so he ordered the man, who was standing 20 feet away, to “move along.” Quinonez, who was no threat to officer safety, declined the illegal order and found himself under the violent wrath of the cop.
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 officer also added that the man couldn't stand on his own; he then handcuffed him and slammed his head up against a wall.
But there were four huge problems for Hampton, who took an oath to be an honest public servant and agreed, per Fullerton PD policy, to treat members of the public with respect.
One: As police audio recordings captured, Quinonez's speech hadn't been slurred.
Two: As police video recordings captured, Quinonez had no problem standing or walking.
Three: As a police blood alcohol test captured, Quinonez's breath couldn't have smelled of alcohol.
Hampton had arrested a man for being drunk in public whose blood-alcohol content proved he'd been entirely sober.
According to official tests, the amount of alcohol found in Quinonez's body?
Immediately after the arrest, a St. Jude Medical Center doctor didn't see a single sign of any intoxication–including for marijuana–while he treated the head wound Hampton inflicted on Quinonez.
Four: 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.”
Making a smart-ass comment to a cop isn't illegal in the United States–yet, but that didn't matter to Hampton, who privately made a revealing remark to his partner that night.
Said Hampton, “He may not have been drinking, but when I asked, 'What's your name?' he said, “None of your fucking business.'”
Hiring attorney Garo Mardirossian, Quinonez filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the city in January 2012.
The city, of course, denied Hampton did anything unethical, like they always do when a citizen complains of dirty officer conduct.
In fact, lawyers for the defendant laughably tried to claim that the cop was the victim of Quinonez's racism against black people.
But as the scheduled July 9 trial approached, Mardirossian hired retired, veteran police officer William P. Flynn to study the case and offer an expert opinion.
Flynn, whose credentials are impeccable, was prepared to testify that Hampton–a man rejected for duty by numerous police departments before Fullerton PD hired him–filed a blatantly false report; the real reason for the arrest was not valid, “contempt of cop;” and Fullerton PD had “hired a person with a propensity for dishonesty,” according to court records.
The expert won't be testifying because a month before the trial launch, city officials decided to offer $25,000 to settle the case.
This week inside Orange County's Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse, U.S. District Court Judge James V. Selna issued a judgment in the plaintiff's favor and closed the case.
Hampton was one of the officers involved in the July 2011 incident where an unarmed Kelly Thomas was unnecessarily beaten to death by a group of cops.
District Attorney Tony Rackauckas filed pending criminal charges against three officers involved in the killing, but not against Hampton.