Second trial on false arrest charges results in $50K against LAPD. Los Angeles County.

Summary

Plaintiffs claimed they were falsely arrested during a large-scale police search in their neighborhood. 

The Case

  • Case Name: Cesar Otero, Fernando Quintana, Jr, Fernando Quintana Sr, Diana Rayos, Judy Quintana v. City of Los Angeles, et al.
  • Court and Case Number: USDC CV 05-04248PLA
  • Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, November 15, 2016
  • Date Action was Filed: Thursday, June 02, 2005
  • Type of Action: Civil Rights, False Arrest/Imprisonment
  • Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Paul Abrams
  • Plaintiffs:
    Judy Quintana, 21, student
    Fernando Quintana, Sr., 44, maintenance worker
  • Defendants:
    City of Los Angeles, Eric Young, Jeffrey Bright, David Stambaugh, Officers Nagle, Levant, Tarjamo, Williams
  • Type of Result: Jury Verdict

The Result

  • Gross Verdict or Award: $50,000 plus fees back to 2004.
  • Non-Economic Damages:

    Fernando: $30,000

    Judy: $20,000

  • Trial or Arbitration Time: 1 week.
  • Jury Polls: 8-0
  • Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defense post trial and fees motion pending. Fees and costs from 2004 to date exceed $375,000.

The Attorneys

  • Attorney for the Plaintiff:

    The Beck Law Firm by Thomas E. Beck, Los Alamitos.

  • Attorney for the Defendant:

    Office of the City Attorney by Surekha Pessis, Los Angeles.

Facts and Background

  • Facts and Background:

    On June 11, 2004 LAPD officers Jeffrey Bright and Eric Young LAPD Southeast Division (Watts)  spotted a stolen pickup and pursued it in a short chase. The driver crashed into parked cars and ran. The passenger hid beneath the wreck and was not noticed. 

    The defendant officers broadcast a foot pursuit, called in Metro Division and air support to find the suspect. A perimeter was formed. Plaintiffs Judy Quintana and Fernando Quintana, Sr. lived inside the perimeter on Anzac Street. 

    Plaintiff Cesar, brother Fernando Jr., Cesar's wife Diana, and friends Raul Duran, Julio Flores were gathered in their front yards as two K-9 officers passed. The officers asked them to move into the house or back yard. All complied.

    Fernando Sr., at a neighbor's home, saw the officers in front of his house as his daughter Judy arrived at home. Fernando Sr. approached and asked permission to enter his own home. The officers gave permission.

    There followed an encounter between plaintiffs and the LAPD officers. See plaintiffs' contentions below for their account of the encounter.

    After the encounter, plaintiffs were booked for allegedly violating Cal. Penal Code section 148 – willful obstruction, delay, resistance of peace officer for refusing consent and causing delay. Cesar received medical treatment while in custody. All were bailed out. No charges were ever filed.

    Plaintiffs made a complaint  to LAPD. LAPD and Internal Affairs investigations yielded no results. A federal civil rights case was filed in 2005. Trial for all five plaintiffs in 2010. Defense ruling. New trial motion filed but not ruled upon until April 2016 granting relief to Fernando and Judy only.

    New Magistrate (Paul Abrams) was assigned the case and held the trial November 8-15. Unanimous 8-person verdict on federal and California false arrest claims.

    Plaintiffs have never been arrested before or since this incident.

  • Plaintiff's Contentions:

    Plaintiffs alleged that two hours after the collision, police received a tip to go to a yellow house on Anzac. Plaintiffs' house is not yellow. Defendant officers Young, Bright, K-9 officer Stambaugh, and four more entered plaintiffs' driveway gate and went into the back yard, shouting orders to get to the ground and put hands on heads. The officers pointed their guns at the people gathered in the back yard.

    Judy and Fernando went to the kitchen door and Judy asked the officers why they were in her yard. Nobody answered. Diana demanded a warrant. Judy was shoved into Diana and Diana was handcuffed. Judy followed the officers toward the street and asked Stambaugh for a number to call to find out what's going on. Stambaugh backhanded her, knocking her to the ground.

    In the 2016 trial, but not in 2010, Stambaugh claimed Judy aggressively marched into his outstretched palm and thereby battered him, constituting additional probable cause grounds for Judy's arrest. Judy ran into the house, and phoned 911 to report that a police officer had hit her. The operator told her to look for a supervisor on scene. There were four. Judy walked out to the front yard where Fernando was standing, calling for supervisors to come to the phone. No one responded. At this time Judy saw her brother Cesar being beaten up by Young, Bright, Levant and Tarjamo. Brother  Fernando Jr, from inside the radio car, smashed a passenger window to pull the cops away from beating Cesar.

    This was witnessed by all the officers and supervisors on scene who later claimed they arrived only after the use of force and saw nothing. A neighbor taped 17-second video clip just as the window was broken out. This video proved that all were present.

    While Judy was still on the phone inside the front yard, she and her father, Fernando Sr., were approached by Sgt. Peter Corkery who asked for consent to search the house.

    Judy and Fernando Sr. denied consent. K-9 officer Stambaugh announced that he does not need permission and he, the dog, Young and Bright entered to search.

    Judy and Fernando were then handcuffed and removed from the front yard,across the street and told not to look back. They looked anyway and saw the officers inside the house rummaging around. They were driven from Anzac St to the command post on 109th and Wilmington, not told why or that they were being arrested. Driven to S/E Division, held there until moved to 77th St for booking at 6AM.

  • Defendant's Contentions:

    That plaintiff Judy battered Officer Levant when officers were in back yard and Officer Stambaugh as officers left the back yard.

    That plaintiffs could not prove who arrested them and probable cause existed for their arrests for delaying investigation by refusing permission to enter.

Injuries and Other Damages

  • Loss of liberty and booking records.

Additional Notes

Defendant Bright died while new trial motion was pending. To keep widow out of suit as next of kin, stipulated to keeping Bright as named defendant because they had to indemnify if liable. 

K-9 officer Stambaugh became a sergeant in between the trials. He was not aware of a video showing him and dog standing in the street when the beating of Cesar took place. He had claimed that he had left the yard after Judy walked into his outstretched palm (new probable cause to arrest defense) and put his dog away.  Claimed he negotiated with Judy and Fernando Sr. to gain entry for 10 minutes; that Fernando Sr. held gate shut, and that both stood in his way when entry was made, all designed to fortify the "interference/delay" accusations beyond mere refusal of consent.

Raul Duran was found after 14 years with a narrated video tape proving Fernando Sr. and  Judy were handcuffed within 90 seconds of the exchange over the fence with Sgt. Corkery.

Disclaimer

This is not an official court document. While the publisher believes the information to be accurate, the publisher does not guarantee it and the reader is advised not to rely upon it without consulting the official court documents or the attorneys of record in this matter who are listed above.

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