Fifteen criminal cases were dismissed Friday in the continuing fallout from charges filed against Los Angeles police officers accused of falsifying records claiming people they had stopped were gang members or associates, according to a published report.
Head Deputy District Attorney Jonlyn Callahan told Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Sergio C. Tapia II that Officers Braxton Shaw and Michael Coblentz worked on eight of nine cases that were dismissed at the request of the District Attorney’s Office, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Another officer, Raul Uribe, who is charged with one count of preparing false documentary evidence, handled the ninth case, according to the newspaper.
Six misdemeanor cases being handled by the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office were also dismissed, The Times reported. Three of those cases involved Coblentz, one involved Shaw and three involved fellow Officer Nicolas Martinez, according to Rob Wilcox with the City Attorney’s Office.
Shaw, Coblentz and Martinez — who were assigned at the time to the Los Angeles Police Department’s Metropolitan Division — were charged July 9 with one count each of conspiracy to obstruct justice and multiple counts of filing a false police report and preparing false documentary evidence. They are set to be arraigned next Wednesday in a downtown Los Angeles courtroom.
Uribe and two other officers, Rene Braga and Julio Garcia, who had also worked at the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division, were subsequently charged Oct. 1. They are awaiting arraignment Feb. 5, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
Prosecutors allege the officers falsified field interview cards used by officers, misidentifying people they had stopped as gang members. Some of the false information wound up being used to wrongfully enter individuals’ names into a state gang database, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
California Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced in February that his office would audit the department’s records and policies on the use of the database.
The LAPD subsequently placed a moratorium on the use of the CalGang System, the statewide database used by law enforcement for sharing intelligence regarding potential gang members.
District Attorney Jackie Lacey directed her prosecutors to corroborate any information derived from field interview cards with other available evidence, including video from officers’ body-worn cameras, in an effort to try to ensure the accuracy of the information, according to the District Attorney’s Office.
The Times reported that in all, 24 cases the officers worked on have been dismissed, with hundreds more under review. The latest cases involved punishments ranging from a year on probation to three years in state prison, according to the newspaper.
In a statement posted on Twitter after the charges were filed against Shaw, Coblentz and Martinez, LAPD Chief Michel Moore said, “Public trust is the bedrock of community policing and these allegations shake that foundation. The actions of these few tarnish the badge we all wear. The department is committed to continuing this comprehensive investigation in our effort to restore the confidence of the people we protect and serve.”
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