Ex-Baldwin Park officer granted probation after alleged beating of handcuffed teen

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón.
(Associated Press)

A former Baldwin Park police officer accused of beating a handcuffed teenager after he surrendered in 2019 was granted probation under the terms of a plea deal last week, authorities said.

Ryan Felton, 36, pleaded no contest to one count of misdemeanor assault and was sentenced to a year of probation, ordered to complete 200 hours of community service and instructed to undergo anger management training, according to Greg Risling, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Last October, prosecutors charged Felton with two counts of assault under color of authority for allegedly kicking a 16-year-old who had laid on the ground in surrender after fleeing a motor vehicle stop in 2019. Prosecutors also accused Felton of striking the teen several times while the young man was seated in the back of a patrol car.


The teen, Anthony Romero, was charged with attempted murder and shooting at an inhabited dwelling last year in an unrelated case three weeks after prosecutors announced the charges against Felton, court records show.

Risling did not immediately respond to questions about what, if any, effect the criminal charges against Romero had on Felton’s case.

Wesley Ouchi, an attorney representing the Romero family in an excessive-force lawsuit against the Baldwin Park Police Department, said the plea deal amounted to a “slap on the wrist and fails to adequately hold [Felton] accountable for his actions.” He declined to comment on the attempted murder charges against his client, but criticized the district attorney’s office for failing to involve his client’s family in the plea negotiations.

Ouchi said the family was unaware the case had been resolved until they were contacted by a Times reporter Tuesday.

In the lawsuit, Romero and his family accused Felton of beating him while handcuffed in the backseat of a cruiser and smashing his face into a metal grate. Romero’s mother, Angelica Estrada, previously told The Times that Felton said he “had to rough [Romero] up a bit to teach him a lesson” when she arrived at police headquarters on the day of the incident.

The lawsuit also accused a second Baldwin Park police officer, Sgt. Joseph Meister, of beating the teen while he was in custody at police headquarters. Prosecutors decided not to charge Meister last week.

According to an eight-page declination memo released to The Times on Tuesday, prosecutors feared Romero’s arrest would affect his credibility as a witness against Meister.


Another officer who could have corroborated Romero’s allegation of abuse wrote up to five versions of his report on the incident, which also raised credibility issues, prosecutors wrote in the memo.

Ultimately, prosecutors declined to file charges because of insufficient evidence.

Felton and Meister are no longer employed by Baldwin Park police, according to a department spokesman.

At the time of Felton’s arrest, his attorney dismissed the case as a “political stunt” undertaken by progressive Dist. Atty. George Gascón. On Tuesday, defense attorney Kasey Castillo said Felton had moved out of California and noted the case would be expunged from Felton’s record in a year.

She still denied all wrongdoing on Felton’s behalf and referred to him as the “victim” in the Romero case.

“It made no sense for him to return and drag his family through court in California to fight those charges, even when on facts and principle he absolutely disputed them,” she said in an email.