Accused of kicking a teenage boy in the face and attacking him again in the back of a patrol car, a California police officer was recently charged with two counts of assault under color of authority.
On September 22, 2019, Baldwin Park police officer Ryan Felton and Sgt. Joseph Meister began pursuing 16-year-old Anthony Romero for allegedly failing to yield during a traffic stop. Romero reportedly exited the vehicle and fled on foot.
After Officer Felton chased Romero into an alley and ordered the teen to surrender, Romero complied and lay face down on the ground. Without legal justification, Felton allegedly kicked the teen in the ribs and in the face.
While Romero was handcuffed and placed inside the backseat of Felton’s patrol vehicle, Felton allegedly punched the teen before slamming his face against the metal grate separating the front and back seats. According to an excessive force lawsuit filed last month by Romero’s attorney, other officers witnessed the incident but failed to intervene despite the fact that it was recorded on camera.
The lawsuit also accuses Felton of striking Romero several times in the head while the teen remained in custody at Baldwin Park police headquarters. All charges against Romero were dismissed.
On Wednesday, Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón announced that Felton has been charged with two felony counts of assault under color authority. He pleaded not guilty today to the charges and is expected to return for a preliminary hearing setting on December 7 in Department 30 of the Foltz Criminal Justice Center.
“Those who wear the uniform must follow the law,” District Attorney Gascón said in a recent press release. “Excessive force will not be tolerated in Los Angeles County.”