A veteran Santa Monica Fire Department captain was arrested by Santa Monica police at Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier Wednesday, July 30th, for allegedly masturbating off-duty inside the amusement park.
Capt. Fernando Padilla, who has served with the Fire Department for 19 years, was arrested and booked for indecent exposure and lewd conduct after witnesses alleged to police they saw Padilla “expose and manipulate his genitalia” on a Pacific Park bench, Santa Monica police Sgt. Renaldi Thruston said.
Padilla, who is assigned as a paramedic captain to the department’s Fire Suppression and Rescue Division, has been placed on administrative leave with pay pending the investigation, Santa Monica Fire Chief Jim Hone said.
Police officers were called at about 5:15 p.m. July 30th, to the pier, where Pacific Park security guards had detained a man for indecent exposure, Thruston said. When officers arrived at the amusement park, they recognized the man as Padilla, who was not in uniform at the time, the police spokesman said.
Witnesses told officers that Padilla was allegedly masturbating while he was sitting on a bench inside the park, Thruston said. Police did not disclose which section of the amusement area the incident occurred in, but Thruston said the “normal crowd of people,” including families with children were in the park at the time.
The fire captain was alone during the incident and was cooperative with police at the time of his arrest, Thruston said.
Jeff Klocke, director of marketing for Pacific Park, said he could not comment on the case, calling it a police investigation, but he confirmed that the incident occurred in the park.
Padilla has been assigned to the Fire Suppression and Rescue Division throughout his career in Santa Monica, Hone said.
“He’s been a member of our department who has performed satisfactorily for the 19 years he’s been here,” Hone said of the captain.
The case is being investigated by the Santa Monica Police Department.
Anyone with additional information regarding this incident is asked to contact Santa Monica police detectives at (310) 458-8451, or the watch commander at (310) 458-8427. Callers who wish to remain anonymous may also call the We-Tip national hotline at (800) 782-7463 (800-78-CRIME).