Hermosan gets $122,000 after arrest

by Robb Fulcher
Published July 9, 2009

City officials have agreed to pay $122,000 to settle a lawsuit by a Hermosa lifeguard and mortgage company owner who was arrested inside his home and held in jail for six hours following a neighbor’s complaint about a loud party.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court claimed that police violated Enrique Coello’s constitutional rights to free speech, due process under the law, and freedom from illegal search and seizure.
Coello was arrested in the early hours of Sept. 16, 2006 on suspicion of public drunkenness and making annoying phone calls to a 911 dispatcher after police came to his 18th Street home in response to a neighbor’s complaint about noise from a backyard swimming pool where he and a handful of guests had gathered.
The lawsuit claimed that: Coello and his guests had gone inside the home when Coello saw Officer Gaetano Lobue in his back yard. Coello waved Lobue around to the front door and met him there.
Lobue stood at the front door and “demanded identification” from Coello, who remained inside and told the officer he had no identification because he was wearing swim trunks. He told Lobue he was the owner of the house.
“Lobue responded by ordering everyone from [Coello’s] home,” then the two argued over whether Lobue had the authority to make such a demand. Coello “asked Lobue to leave.” Lobue said he would not do so until Coello’s guests left, and then Coello tried to close the door but was “prevented by Lobue’s foot.”
Lobue told Coello that he “drank too much.” Coello then telephoned 911 and try to talk to the officer’s supervisor. A dispatcher said a supervisor would be sent, and then Lobue radioed the dispatcher and cancelled the request.
Coello was handcuffed and taken to jail, but on the recommendation of the police chief, no charges were filed against him.
In a September 2006 interview Coello, then 42, owner of CIMA Mortgage in Manhattan Beach and a seasonal Los Angeles County lifeguard for 22 years, said he and four friends had been swimming in his pool after midnight, and by the time police arrived they had turned off the music and gone inside. He said Lobue went inside his home to arrest him. ER