Thursday, March 15, 2012

Fullerton: Come for the Nightlife, Stay for the Abusive Police

Recently, it seems that Fullerton, CA has become a shining beacon of police corruption.  Kelly Thomas put the town on the map (and the international news), but he's not alone among the long and growing list of those unfortunate enough to cross paths with Fullerton's Finest.

This week, we've added two more chapters to the story that just won't end.

Ofc. Vince Mater was finally charged with vandalism and destruction of evidence for his role in the custodial death of Dean Gochenour.  Gochenour, 52, was arrested around 9:45 PM on April 14, 2011 on suspicion of DUI.  Mater transported Gochenour to the FPD's jail, where the suspect was turned over to jailers for booking.  Some time around 11:30 PM, Gochenour's lifeless body was discovered hanging inside his holding cell.  Immediately upon learning of the death, Mater allegedly destroyed his department-issued Digital Audio Recorder (DAR), which would have contained audio recordings of his encounter with Gochenour.  According the DA's press release, Mater smashed the device against a steel door at the police station and removed the circuit board to ensure that nothing on the tape would ever see the light of day. Mater is not accused of murdering Gochenour and nothing indicates that he was personally responsible for the death.  Rather, it appears that Mater ignored repeated comments made by Gochenour indicating that he intended to kill himself. 

Mater is due in court on March 26 for his arraignment. 

Interesting side note:  Mater had previously been identified by the OCDA's Office as a "Brady Cop".  A Brady Cop is a police officer whose credibility has been so tarnished that he cannot be relied upon to testify truthfully at trial.  Once an officer is tagged as a Brady Cop, his or her value is basically reduced to that of a paperweight with a generous pension (and a gun).   

Our second story of the week actually involves an LAPD officer who made his home in Fullerton, presumably because of town's affinity for crooked cops.  Sgt. Joshua Jinwook Chong, 41, is facing a felony charge for making criminal threats against an ex-girlfriend, as well as two misdemeanor charges related to making harassing phone calls. 

Salvador Hernandez of the OC Register writes:

According to prosecutors, Chong sent several text messages to the woman on Oct. 17, 2011, in which he threatened to kill a male friend of hers. Later that night, he called her and allegedly threatened to kill her.

The woman decided to stay at a friend's home, and Chong is accused of calling her more than 25 times on Oct. 17, 2011, and the following day.

The woman reported the incident to the California State Fullerton Police Department, and Chong was arrested the same day.

Chong is out of custody after posting $50,000 bail.

...and Fullerton's proud history of police corruption grows a little longer.  Stay tuned for updates as they become available.