Police accused of ‘mentally torturing’ man, leading him to admit to crime he didn’t commit

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By Yosi Yahoudai
Founder and Managing Partner

FONTANA, Calif. – A 2018 interrogation by Fontana police lasted 17 hours. In the end, the man admitted to a crime he didn’t commit, a crime that never even happened.

The man being interrogated is Thomas Perez Jr. He reported his father missing. Fontana police accused Thomas of killing his dad and, after intense pressure, got him to admit to it. But his father was very much alive.

For 17 hours, Thomas Perez Jr. was questioned by detectives David Janusz and Kyle Guthrie of the Fontana Police Department.

“How can you sit there and say you don’t know what happened? And your dog sitting here looking at you, knowing that you killed your dad?” the detectives can be heard on video saying during their interrogation with Thomas. “You killed him, and he’s dead.”

It was a lie that was repeated over and over to try to get Thomas to confess.

When Thomas first reported his father missing, officers arrived at the home with a cadaver dog and claimed to have found blood.

“They claim the dog lit on the upper bedroom. Well, there were no cadavers. Nobody died. So that’s a little suspicious,” said Jerry Steering, who represents Thomas. He called the interrogation “nothing short of psychological torture.”

After Thomas was mentally broken down and had falsely admitted to killing his father, Fontana police received a call that the missing man was alive and well. But they didn’t tell Thomas.

“They don’t tell him. They put a 5150 hold on him, they have him taken to a mental hospital, and tell the people at the mental hospital that he’s in an in-custody hold and that nobody is supposed to talk to him,” Steering explained.

Steering filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court against the city of Fontana, and the suit was settled for nearly $900,000.

After reviewing the interrogation video, Steering remarked, “After I went to his video and saw the techniques that they used… it became apparent to me that they can get you or I to confess to killing Abraham Lincoln if they wanted to.”

The city of Fontana admitted no wrongdoing by the Fontana Police Department. They issued a statement on their website stating the settlement was simply a business decision that would save the city time and money.

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About the Author
Yosi Yahoudai is a founder and the managing partner of J&Y. His practice is comprised primarily of cases involving automobile and motorcycle accidents, but he also represents people in premises liability lawsuits, including suits alleging dangerous conditions of public property, third-party criminal conduct, and intentional torts. He also has expertise in cases involving product defects, dog bites, elder abuse, and sexual assault. He earned his Bachelor of Arts from the University of California and is admitted to practice in all California State Courts, and the United States District Court for the Southern District of California. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact Yosi by clicking here.