Fullerton Police Department

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Fullerton, CA Police patch

The Fullerton Police Department of Fullerton, California, was established in 1904 when the city incorporated. The Fullerton Police Department currently employs 153 sworn officers and 78 civilian employees. It has a budget of about $35 million.[1] The current chief is David Hendricks.[2]



Date Chief of Department
1904 July Marshal Charles E. Ruddock
1910 April Marshal Roderick D. Stone
1912 November Marshal William French
1918 August Chief Vernon Myers
1921 August Chief Arthur L. Eeles
1925 April Chief O. W. Wilson
1925 December Chief Thomas K. Winter
1927 December Chief James M. Pearson
1940 April Chief John C. Gregory
1951 February Chief Ernest E. Garner
1957 November Chief Wayne H. Bornhoft
1977 September Chief Martin Hairabedian
1987 March Chief Philip Goehring
1993 March Chief Patrick McKinley
2009 April Chief Michael Sellers*
2012 January Acting Chief Dan Hughes
Chief Dan Hughes
2017 August Chief David Hendricks
  • Sellers began paid medical leave August 2011 and retired in February 2012. Kevin Hamilton was named acting chief in his place.[3]


The department has a Uniform Division, a Service Division and a Detective Division all commanded by officers in the rank of captain.[4]


In April 2003, press reports indicated that two unnamed Fullerton police officers were suspended without pay for 60 hours while two more senior supervisors were suspended for 12.5 hours. The officers had been called to an address because of a possible suicide of a woman. One officer squatted next to the unconscious victim, passed wind and remarked, "This ought to wake her up." The second officer climbed into bed with the woman and pretended to lick her.[5]

On the night of March 17, 2010, a number of Fullerton police personnel arrested an unnamed college student. The student filed a complaint that the police threatened him, broke his fingers and tortured him before stealing his iPod and $140. An internal investigation by the department confirmed that Officer Cary Tong had in fact violated department policy and broke the man’s finger.[6]

On June 1, 2010, Fullerton police conducted a lineup of assault suspects on a local street. The victim sat in a police car about 25 feet from the three men and identified the one she thought had attacked her. The police then arrested Emmanuel Martinez instead of the man she indicated. Martinez was held in jail for five months until the matter was sorted out.[7]

In the same month, Officer Kenton Hampton objected to Edward Quinonez observing him conduct a traffic stop. He arrested Quinonez claiming he was intoxicated. In the course of the arrest, Quinonez was injured in the head. hospital reports and taped evidence showed he was not intoxicated. In July 2013, the city agreed to pay the man $25,000 to settle the matter. Officer Hampton was present at the death of Kelly Thomas in July, but was not charged.[8]

On the night of October 20, 2010, Fullerton police officers burst into the house of Robyn Nordell without warning. They had entered the wrong house while looking for someone. The four officers did not report the mistake to the police department for five days. The matter was settled out of court.[9][10] In October of the next year, the police chief publicly apologized.[11]

In June 2011, press reports indicated that a Fullerton police officer, Kelly Janeth Mejia had been arrested at Miami International Airport after stealing an iPad at a security checkpoint. The officer was placed on paid leave by the department.[12] She was fired in October, although the department would not make a public statement as to why she was discharged. She admitted her guilt in court on February 2012 and was sentenced to pay $100 in court costs, a $250 charitable donation and a requirement to attend a "theft class."[13] In July 2011, Fullerton police officer Todd Alan Major plead guilty to two charges involving embezzlement and theft to fuel his drug habit. He was sentenced to six months in jail.[14]

In August 2011, Officer Alber Rincon was the subject of a federal lawsuit by two women claiming the officer sexually attacked them in the back seat of his police car. On July 9, the department informed the officer they intended to fire him. At this point, he was no longer to allowed to wear his badge.[11] The city later moved settle the case.[15][16] U.S. District Judge Andrew J. Guilford wrote that "Requiring Rincon to attend 'pat-down' training is weak sauce that does nothing to hide the unpleasant taste of complicity...At the end of the day, the City put Rincon back onto the streets to continue arresting women despite a pattern of sexual harassment allegations."[17]

In January 2012, press reports indicated the Fullerton Police Department was the subject of a lawsuit concerning tow trucks in the city. The suit claimed that officers systematically harassed and intimidated tow truck drivers from companies not preferred by the department.[18]

In March 2012, press reports indicated a Fullerton police corporal was charged with destroying his digital audio recorder after the apparent jailhouse suicide of a person he had arrested. Corporal Vincent Thomas Mater detained Dean Francis Gochenour for driving under the influence and took him to the Fullerton jail. Two hours later Gochenour was found hanging dead in his holding cell. When it was found Mater's recording device had been damaged, he was placed on paid leave and later fired.[19] In November 2012, Mater pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of destruction of property and vandalism and was sentenced to probation.[20]

Kelly Thomas[edit]

On the night of July 5, 2011, Fullerton police responded to reports of a man trying to break into cars. They encountered Kelly Thomas, 37,[21] a local mentally ill transient. Thomas was an unarmed local homeless man who was beaten severely by six officers and stunned six times with a taser. Thomas was taken to a hospital, and put on life support. Later, the life support was removed; Thomas died five days later. After video of the incident and photos of Thomas in the hospital were released, five of the officers involved were placed on paid administrative leave. One other officer was already on administrative leave. The Fullerton Police Department refused to release their names at the time. The F.B.I. began an investigation.[22] In early August, the city offered the Thomas family $900,000 to settle the matter. The family refused.[23]

In mid-August, Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas said he saw nothing in the video that pointed to an attempt by the officers to kill Thomas. At about the same time, the Thomas family launched a lawsuit that could potentially cost Fullerton millions of dollars.[24] Local activists began a campaign to recall the mayor and city council. On August 9,[25] the police chief stepped down, citing health concerns.[26] Taking over from the suddenly ill police chief, acting chief Kevin Hamilton told the press that the surveillance tape from the scene (which had yet to be released by the authorities) showed "there was certainly a significant amount of struggle between Mr. Thomas and the officers."[25] The Orange County Register reported that Thomas was ordered to sit on a curb and did so, but he failed to keep his hands on his knees as ordered.[27] The police then reached for their batons. The Los Angeles Times reported Officer Ramos began the confrontation, putting on latex gloves and screaming, "See my fists? They are getting ready to f--- you up."[28]

On September 6, in order to pressure the district attorney to bring charges, the family's lawyer went on local newscasts with graphic images showing the damage done Thomas by the beating.[29]

On September 22, 2011, press reports indicated District Attorney Rackauckas changed his mind and charged Officer Manuel Ramos and Corporal Jay Cicinelli with the killing. Ramos, 37 years old, who has served with the department for ten years, was jailed in lieu of a million dollar bond. Cicinelli, aged 39 and with a dozen years of service was released on $25,000 bail.[28][30] Cicinelli was placed on unpaid administrative leave by the Fullerton Police Department, but continued to receive his disability payments from the Los Angeles Police Department for a 1996 shooting that cost him his left eye.[31]

The other four officers at the scene, Officer Joseph Wolfe, Officer Kenton Hampton, Sergeant Kevin Craig and Corporal James Blatney were not charged due to lack of evidence according to a statement by the District Attorney's office.[28] Wolfe was later indicted by a grand jury in late September 2012.[32]

In mid-January 2014, Corporal Jay Cicinelli and Officer Manuel Ramos were acquitted of all charges.[33]

Fallen officers[edit]

Since the establishment of the Fullerton Police Department, two officers have died in the line of duty.[34]

Officer Date of Death Details
Officer Jerry Scott Hatch
Monday, June 30, 1975
Vehicular assault
Officer Tommy De La Rosa
Thursday, June 21, 1990

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Could your city police department cost less?", May 8, 2012, by Teri Sforza, Orange County Register
  2. ^ http://www.fullertonpd.org/team/default.asp
  3. ^ "Fullerton Police website". Ci.fullerton.ca.us. May 25, 2011. Archived from the original on September 27, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  4. ^ "City of Fullerton - Administration". Ci.fullerton.ca.us. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  5. ^ "Fullerton suspends four police officers for farting in victim's face. They humiliated woman thought to be unconscious, memo says", April 19, 2003 by John McDonald, Orange Country Register
  6. ^ "City of Fullerton - Police Department" (PDF). Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  7. ^ "Fulerton Man Set Free Mid-Trial after 5 Months in Jail", by Rachanee SriSavasdi, November 11, 2010, Orange County Register
  8. ^ "Fullerton Settles Dirty Cop Lawsuit Before Federal Jury Trial", by R. Scott Moxley Fri., July 5, 2013, OC Weekly
  9. ^ "Mistaken Fullerton Police Raid". Robyn Nordell.com. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  10. ^ "Apology letter" (PDF). Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  11. ^ a b "Fullerton Police Raid Wrong House, Acting Police Chief Apologizes to Family a Year Later" by Marisa Gerber, October 5, 2011, OC Weekly
  12. ^ "Fullerton Police Officer Charged with Stealing iPad", by Lou Ponsi, June 28, 2011, Orange County Register
  13. ^ "Former Fullerton officer guilty of iPad theft", by Lou Ponsi, Orange County Register, February 9, 2012
  14. ^ "Drugs, Theft, cost Fullerton officer his Badge" by Kimberly Edds, Orange County Register, July 5, 2011
  15. ^ "Fullerton Chief Issues Intent to Fire Cop Accused of Groping Women". KTLA News. October 4, 2011. Retrieved May 6, 2012.[permanent dead link]
  16. ^ "Court Document" (PDF). Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  17. ^ "Federal Judge Calls Fullerton Police Department's Handling Of Allegations Of Sexual Misconduct By An Officer 'Shocking'", by Marisa Gerber Fri., September 30, 2011, OC Weekly.com
  18. ^ "Are Fullerton Cops Running a Towing Scam?" by Brandon Furgeson, January 31, 2012, OC Weekly
  19. ^ "Former Fullerton Officer Charged with Destroying Evidence" by Deniesse Salazar and Lou Ponsi, March 13, 2012, Orange County Register
  20. ^ "Ex-Fullerton officer sentenced for destroying audio recorder", LA Times Blog, November 1, 2012
  21. ^ [1][dead link]
  22. ^ Lovett, Ian (August 3, 2011). "Death of Homeless Man After Beating by Police Stirs Outrage". The New York Times. Los Angeles. Retrieved August 4, 2011.
  23. ^ "FBI Reviews Beating Death in Fullerton - FOX 11 News". YouTube. August 2, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  24. ^ [2][dead link]
  25. ^ a b Ponsi, Lou. "Kelly Thomas' parents file claim against Fullerton". Articles.ocregister.com. Archived from the original on July 7, 2012. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  26. ^ "Kelly Thomas Protest Continues in Fullerton". YouTube. August 13, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  27. ^ Irving, Doug. "Kelly Thomas death: 1 cop in jail, 1 on bail - death, thom - News". Ocregister.com. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  28. ^ a b c "DA Charges Fullerton Police Officers In Homeless Death". Neon Tommy. September 21, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  29. ^ "Kelly Thomas Beating – Friends For Fullerton's Future". Fullertonsfuture.org. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  30. ^ "Fullerton police officers charged in beating death of mentally ill man". GantDaily.com. September 22, 2011. Retrieved July 12, 2012.
  31. ^ Sewell, Abby (November 18, 2011). "Fullerton officer charged in Kelly Thomas' death will keep LAPD pension". Los Angeles Times.
  32. ^ "3rd California Officer charged in beating death of homeless man", by Erica Henry, Cnn.com, September 28, 2012
  33. ^ "Former California Police Officers Found Not Guilty Of Killing Homeless Man", by Gillain Flaccus, January 13, 2014, The Huffington Post
  34. ^ "The Officer Down Memorial Page". Odmp.org. Retrieved July 12, 2012.

External links[edit]