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Chuong Nguyen

Other Contra Costa County Exonerations
Shortly before 2 a.m., on October 15, 2013, police in Pittsburg, California were called to a Motel 6 where an employee reported that 42-year-old Chuong Nguyen, who was not a guest, was refusing to leave the motel premises.

Pittsburg Police officer Michael Sibbitt reported that he found Nguyen sleeping—or pretending to sleep—on a chair inside the swimming pool area.

Sibbitt reported that when Nguyen refused to respond to commands, he and another officer tried to remove him. Sibbitt wrote in his report that Nguyen made an obscene gesture and then attempted to avoid being handcuffed by pressing his arms under his body.

Nguyen was placed in the back of Sibbitt’s squad car and taken to the Pittsburg police lockup. There, according to Sibbitt, Nguyen spit in Sibbitt’s face as Sibbitt removed him from the patrol car.

Nguyen was charged with battery on a police officer, resisting arrest and trespassing—all misdemeanors.

On October 26, 2013, Nguyen pled guilty to resisting arrest in Contra Costa County Superior Court. He was sentenced to 60 days in jail.

On December 12, 2016, the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office filed a motion to vacate Nguyen’s conviction as well as more than a dozen others. The motions were granted and the cases were dismissed.

The prosecution took the action because the police had failed to disclose to the prosecution—and ultimately to lawyers in the Contra Costa Public Defenders Office who were representing Nguyen—that Sibbitt and another officer, Elisabeth Ingram, had been accused of beating suspects in other cases with flashlights. Defense attorneys could have used the information to challenge the officers’ testimony.

The action came after former Pittsburg police Lt. Wade Derby filed a lawsuit earlier in 2016 claiming that he had warned the department and provided memoranda to the Pittsburg police chief that the department was failing to turn over the records to the prosecution and to defense attorneys.

According to a lawsuit Sibbitt and Ingram filed against the Pittsburg police department, they were placed on administrative leave in June 2014 and resigned from the force “under duress” in August 2014. Their lawsuit claimed that other officers instructed them to falsify crime reports and not to report use of force during arrests in order to downplay crimes and present a portrait of a city with a lower crime rate.

– Maurice Possley

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Posting Date: 2/6/2017
County:Contra Costa
Most Serious Crime:Other Nonviolent Misdemeanor
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:2013
Sentence:60 days
Age at the date of reported crime:42
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No