Mistrial declared in case of Pomona officers charged in teenager’s violent arrest
A mistrial was declared Monday in the case of two Pomona police officers charged in a violent encounter with an unarmed teenager during an incident that a bystander captured on video.
Cpl. Chad Jensen, a 21-year veteran of the Pomona department, faced charges that he used excessive force against Christian Aguilar, then 16, at the Los Angeles County Fair three years ago.
Jensen and his partner, Officer Prince Hutchinson, were also accused of lying in reports and court testimony to cover up the two blows Jensen delivered to Aguilar’s face while trying to detain the teen. A separate trial for a third officer, who faces charges stemming from how he conducted the department’s internal investigation into the incident, is scheduled for next month.
The jury was divided 11-1 in favor of conviction, said Thom Mrozek, a spokesman for the U.S. attorney’s office.
U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte declared the mistrial Monday evening after deciding further deliberations by the jury would not sway the lone holdout. The jury had deliberated for little more than a day when it announced it was deadlocked.
Frances Lewis, one of the prosecutors in the case, said the government intends to retry both officers on the same charges they faced in the weeklong trial that concluded Friday.
Attorneys for Jensen and Hutchinson could not be reached for comment.
The officers were indicted last year after a lengthy FBI investigation into what happened on the night in September 2015 when Aguilar and his family attended the fair at the Pomona Fairplex.
When Aguilar’s father and another adult relative were arrested for public intoxication, a group of Pomona officers escorted the men off the fairgrounds. Aguilar followed with several other people and began recording with his phone.
The trial turned in large part on what Jensen and Hutchinson said they saw as they approached the scene. On Aguilar’s video Jensen is heard politely asking the teen to stay back from the officers who were escorting the arrested men. Aguilar brushes off the request and says he is going ahead.
Seconds later, Jensen grabs the teen and the video ends. Jensen then leads Aguilar into a nearby alcove.
In their reports, Jensen and Hutchinson claimed Aguilar had moved quickly toward the officers holding his father, drawn close and appeared to be intent on interfering with them. Prosecutors tried to convince jurors these claims were gross exaggerations and that Aguilar had done nothing to justify Jensen’s forceful response.
A bystander recorded a video showing the officer putting the teen against a wall, swinging him around and striking him hard two times twice in quick succession. In the video, Aguilar, who was left with a bloodied lip and other injuries, is seen keeping his arms by his side as he is hit.
In their reports and in testimony during proceedings against Aguilar in juvenile court, Jensen and Hutchinson claimed the teen had tried to strike Jensen, requiring the officer to subdue him with the blows.
In opening and closing statements, prosecutors and defense attorneys sparred over what the videos showed, with both sides claiming the footage supported their case.
Follow @joelrubin on Twitter
8:10 p.m.: This article has been updated with additional details about the trial and the evidence presented to jurors.
This article was originally published at 6:20 p.m.
The perils of parenting through a pandemic
What’s going on with school? What do kids need? Get 8 to 3, a newsletter dedicated to the questions that keep California families up at night.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.