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SANTA PAULA : Ex-Officer Cleared of Brutality Charge

A jury Tuesday cleared a former Santa Paula police officer of brutality in connection with a March, 1991, altercation that left a suspect with a broken leg.

Martin Rios Navarette, 24, filed the lawsuit in Ventura County Municipal Court, contending that Officer Greg Guilin broke his left tibia and used racial slurs during an arrest on East Ventura Street.

The incident occurred after Guilin, now a deputy in the Ventura County Sheriff’s Department, responded to a domestic-disturbance call involving Navarette and the father of Navarette’s girlfriend, lawyers said.

The defense contended that Navarette had been drinking and broke the bone in his leg while resisting arrest. Guilin denied using racial slurs, testifying that he is Latino, like Navarette.

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But Navarette said Guilin assaulted him without provocation after arriving on the scene. Attorney Douglas L. Stenzel said Guilin placed his client in a chokehold for 30 seconds, until his client’s face became ashen. He then dragged a subdued Navarette about 20 feet and slammed him to the ground, breaking the leg bone, Stenzel told the jury.

After deliberating for about an hour, the jury voted 11 to 1 to reject Navarette’s charge of unnecessary force. It voted 12 to 0 against the plaintiff’s claim that Guilin violated his civil rights by directing racial slurs at him.

The case went to trial after the city of Santa Paula rejected an arbitrator’s award of $10,000 to Navarette, Stenzel said.

Guilin’s attorney, Terrence J. Bonham, said his client followed departmental policy. Guilin, who is in his late 20s, now works as an officer at the Ventura County Jail.

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