HOLLYWOOD (CBSLA.com) — A college student who claims he was unjustly beaten and Tasered by officers while out with his friends in Hollywood last October is suing the Los Angeles Police Department.
“All I could remember was just sirens and punches,” said Aibuedefe Oghogho, who has no criminal past. Oghogho has filed a lawsuit against the LAPD, alleging excessive use of force and a violation of his civil rights for the arrest that happened on Oct. 22, 2010.
Video of Oghogho — who was holding a beer concealed in a paper bag — and his friend crossing the street was captured by a Hollywood nightclub’s security camera.
In the video, officers can be seen pulling up in an unmarked car and asking Oghogho what he’s holding. He says one of the officers pushed him, and Oghgho admits to putting up an arm and saying, “Stop.” That’s when he says things went south.
During the struggle, Officer Jenkins can be seen pulling his baton and striking Oghogho in the neck. He and his partner, Officer Tafoya, are then seen repeatedly punching Oghogho while he is on the ground. Oghogho is then put in handcuffs and is motionless on the ground when what appears to be an army of backup officers arrive.
“They picked me up, threw me onto this fence and they threw me onto the fence started hitting me while I was on the fence and then they slammed me down like head first,” Oghogho said. “And I’m…and it’s the whole time they’re doin’ it, the whole time they’re doin’ it, I hear one officer keep punching me in my face, he’s telling me, ‘stop resisting arrest, stop resisting arrest’ and all I could say to myself was, ‘I’m not resisting.’”
The most painful moment happens out of view of the camera, when he is taken to the ground one more time and a third officer, Officer De La Torre, pulls out his Taser and issues a five-second shock.
Oghogho was ultimately arrested on suspicion of felony resisting arrest. He was treated for minor injuries, but had no broken bones and did not need to be hospitalized.
According to Officer Jenkins’ arrest report, Oghogho was “uncooperative and aggressive” and that he “began to swing his arms and fists wildly in an attempt to escape.” Officer Jenkins wrote that he used his baton “in order to stop his aggressive action and force him to the ground.”
The first punch was “to prevent him from striking me” and the next two “in order to stop his repeated attacks. The third, fourth and fifth punches were to “turn his body and face to the ground,” according to the arrest report. The Taser was used in response to Oghogho’s “attempt to head butt me” and “kick me in the groin area.”
“None of that is on the video and none of that makes any sense, and none of that happened,” Oghogho’s attorney, John Burton said. Burton says he believes the report was written after police officials saw the videotape and tailored it to justify their actions, rather than give a true account of what happened.
The District Attorney’s office declined to prosecute the case and the charges against Oghogho were dropped a year after his arrest.
“I think the DA looked at that report and said, ‘This is a joke, I don’t want to have anything to do with it,’” Burton said.
The LAPD’s investigation into the arrest has concluded that the officers acted properly in response to the threat posed by Oghogho.
LAPD officials have declined to comment on the lawsuit, citing ongoing litigation. Officials did say they have turned over all evidence and video to the department’s Internal Affairs division for another look.