Following the incident involving Fullerton College Campus Safety and Luis Munoz on October 13, the president’s forum on Oct. 17 and new accusations against Officer Erubiel Herrera, Munoz has come forward to The Hornet to tell his side of the story and give his thoughts on how the incident has developed.
“I had work later on in the day so I decided why not hang out with people, all of a sudden the security guard [Skokos] just comes over and he looks around the area but once he sees me he goes straight to me and he asks me ‘Hey, what are you doing?’ and I was smoking a cigarette so I told him ‘I’m smoking a cigarette’
“There’s no smoking on campus, put the cigarette out,” Skokos said according to Munoz.
Munoz claims that he then put the cigarette out and then Skokos started asking for his ID card.
“I need to see your ID because the code if you’re a student,” Skokos said.
“I’m not a student, so you don’t need to see my ID,” Munoz claims he said to Skokos.
“Well that doesn’t matter anymore, I need to see your ID,” Skokos said.
Munoz claims that they went back and forth about if Munoz had to show Skokos his ID card when Skokos decided to grab his handcuffs.
“I thought he was just trying to intimidate me at this point,” Munoz said, “Once he started approaching me with the handcuffs, I was like ‘Woah’ so I took a step back, I’m not going to do anything to hurt you or try to get away but i’m going to take a couple steps back.”
That was when Officer Skokos began his interaction with Munoz.
“My main thing was what’s the best way to protect myself and not hurt him in the process, so I figured get into a ball,” Munoz said, “that way no one’s getting hurt.”
When the second officer arrived, as seen in the video provided by FC student who identifies as Wisdom Juice, Munoz claims he decided to get out of his ball position and let the officers handcuff him.
“I felt safe enough now that there’s two people around and everyone else is around, I’m going to let myself get handcuffed,” Munoz claims.
Once the officers began handcuffing him, this is when Skokos, according to Munoz, decided to put his knee on him.
“That’s when he decides to pin me with his knee. I’m not resisting at this point, I’m already in handcuffs, I’m already on the floor,” Munoz said, “every time I make a statement he starts digging his knee harder into my back to the point where I can’t breathe.”
That was when nearby witnesses began asking campus safety officers to get off of Munoz and Officer Erubiel Herrera, the other officer seen in the video, allegedly pushes Samer Ghaddar by his neck when he tries to get involved.
“Samer wasn’t doing anything like he was just telling them ‘hey get off him, you can tell that he’s hurting’ and then Herrera coming by and grabbing and pushing him by the neck, he’s obviously not hitting one of you guys or pushing one of you guys,” Munoz said, “why do you have to do him like that?”
Munoz is thankful that Wisdom Juice and Daniela Juarez both recorded his altercation with campus safety officers.
“I can’t be thankful enough for them to have recorded it, had no one thought to record it would have just been a ‘he said, I said’,” Munoz said, “would they believe one of their safety officers or believe me? And that’s the situation I would have been in.”
Munoz’s official ticket from Fullerton Police Department was for smoking within 25 feet of a public building and he plans to fight the ticket in court due to the ticket stating it’s a non correctable offense. The citation he received from Fullerton College was for trespassing.
After watching a video of the event, Munoz is surprised at the amount of all the people who showed up to the Presidents Forum on October 17.
“When I heard about that from Wisdom Juice, I couldn’t believe it because this is someone they don’t know, this is someone they’re all showing up for and who they don’t really know,” Munoz said stating he couldn’t attend due to his citation, “to have all those people there was just amazing.”
He gave his thoughts after being shown the video of the Lorenzo Kevin Bennett incident.
“To hear about my situation and then to know that someone had to go through the same things doing nothing wrong, because from what I heard from the story him and a teacher had gotten into a verbal argument and they just told him to leave, not to leave the school and he left to another building,” Munoz said, “he left, he had complied and for them to react physically aggressive to another student in a situation, did they not realize that what they’re doing is wrong?”
Munoz believes that this shows a deeper problem with the campus safety officer’s mentalities.
“This is just showing that they’re deciding to just do this and aren’t expecting anybody to get mad about what they’re doing,” Munoz said, “how do you justify that in your head? How are you going to justify being aggressive to someone who’s not reacting the same way?”
Then he confirmed that he now has a lawyer and that he’s focused on getting Officer Skoko’s fired.
“If he’s going to react like this every single time someone complies with his orders, how’s he going to react to someone that’s not being complaint? How far is he going to go if he’s not fired?” Munoz said, “for you to see something like that and know that as a security is not supposed to put hands on someone and you don’t think that’s eligibility to get someone fired, that just goes to show negligence on the side of the college.”
Munoz believes that Officer Erubiel Herrera’s actions were wrong, but that it’s not his room to say what needs to be done about Officer Herrera.
“Same thing, you can’t put your hands on someone when you know your not supposed to,” Munoz said, “with what his actions did already deem a firing, but I’ll leave that up to Samer, and what he thinks and what he thinks need’s to be done with him.”
He finished by stating that his focus is Skokos, the officer who allegations were originally brought against.
“My main thing is Dino Skoko’s has to be fired, there’s no other option,” Munoz said, “his behavior does not warrant leniency.”