A Newport Beach man has sued the police department, accusing officers of using excessive force when they took him into custody last year.
Thomas Quinn is seeking unspecified damages, alleging officers pulled his pants down, punched him in the face and neck, and beat him the night of Nov. 29.
Newport City Attorney Aaron Harp said police did take Quinn into custody that night but that his excessive force allegations are without merit.
According to Quinn's complaint filed in Orange County Superior Court, officers came to the door of his Newport home at about 10:30 p.m. after his ex-girlfriend called 911 to report he'd stolen property from her.
An officer became "enraged" when Quinn said any of her property in his home had been brought there by his ex-girlfriend, according to the lawsuit.
The officer allegedly patted down Quinn, pulling down his pants, shoving him into a wall and then knocking him to the ground with a punch to the neck.
At one point, the officer lifted Quinn into the air and then shoved his face into the carpet before he dragged him out of sight of neighbors and punched him twice in the face, the lawsuit alleges.
The incident ended when an officer sat on Quinn's back while he and another officer struck him repeatedly until they dragged him outside, handcuffed him and hit him two more times, even though he was subdued, according to the court document.
An ambulance responded to the scene to take Quinn to a hospital, the lawsuit says.
Quinn was booked into the Newport Beach Jail that night on suspicion of "obstructing a police officer in the performance of his duties," according to Harp.
The city has yet to be served with the complaint, Harp said, but his office had been forwarded a copy.
"Based on a review of the incident, it is my opinion that the claims of excessive force are without merit, and that the officer's actions were appropriate given the circumstances," Harp said in an email Thursday.
Harp said excessive-force lawsuits against the Newport Beach police are rare, averaging less than one a year.
"The police officers in Newport Beach are well trained on how to apply the correct level of force appropriate for the circumstances which helps limit the number of these types of claims," he said.
Quinn's attorney at the Newport Beach-based Law Offices of Joseph R. Manning did not return calls Thursday.