LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A deadlocked jury prompted a federal judge to declare a mistrial Monday in the trial of two of three Pomona police officers facing charges in the violent 2015 arrest of a teen boy at the Los Angeles County Fair and the purported cover-up that followed.
The jury was divided 11-1 in favor of guilt on all counts in the trial of Officers Chad Jensen, 51, and Prince Hutchinson, 32.
The two men are both facing charges of preparing false reports that attempted to justify the use of force and obstruction of justice for giving false testimony.
Jensen is also charged with deprivation of rights under color of law for his alleged assault of then 16-year-old Christian Aguilar.
The jury began discussions late Friday and deliberated for about six hours Monday before telling U.S. District Judge Andre Birotte Jr., who was filling in on Monday for the absent trial judge, that the panel was hung and could not reach unanimous verdicts.
Birotte Jr. scheduled a status conference for next Monday afternoon in downtown L.A. to discuss the next steps in the case, including whether the pair will be tried again.
On Sept. 16, 2015, Jensen was captured on cell phone video beating Aguilar. The confrontation began when Jensen noticed the teen filming police as they escorted Aguilar’s apparently drunk father and cousin out of the fairgrounds, federal prosecutors said.
Although Aguilar’s cellphone stopped recording just before the assault, video footage taken by another fairgoer appears to show Aguilar being spun around and struck.
Prosecutors allege that Jensen “grabbed” the youth and pulled him away to a small alcove where he struck him.
Federal prosecutors allege that in reports prepared soon after the encounter, Jensen falsely wrote that the “belligerent” teenager attempted to punch him in the jaw and came within arm’s reach of another officer.
Aguilar was taken into custody for allegedly resisting arrest and charged as a juvenile. Eight months later, the officers repeated their false accounts of the arrest while testifying against the youth at a court hearing, federal prosecutors said.
The charges against the boy, as well as those against his father and cousin, were eventually dropped.
Two years ago, the city of Pomona paid Aguilar $500,000 to settle a civil lawsuit over the encounter at the Pomona Fairplex.
In October 2017, Jensen, Hutchinson and a third Pomona police officer was indicted on federal charges in the case.
That third officer, Michael Neaderbaomer, is charged separately with witness tampering for attempting to dissuade Aguilar’s family from pursuing an internal investigation into the arrest and making false statements to the FBI. He faces trial in December.
Michael Schwartz, Jensen’s lawyer, told jurors during closing arguments Friday that they must consider his client’s use of violence “from the perspective” of the officer. Jensen believed he had to protect himself from Aguilar, whom he thought was “resisting” and had assumed a fighting stance, the attorney said.
If convicted of all charges, the officers could face anywhere from five to 20 years in prison. It’s unclear if the three officers are still working in the department.
(© Copyright 2018 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. City News Service contributed to this report.)