Jury selection is set to begin in a brutality lawsuit against Anaheim Police by a man who claims he was beaten into confessing his role in the murder of a state correctional officer 17 years ago – – a crime in which he was later determined to have had no involvement.
Rafael Garcia Miranda and his wife, Olga, have named the city of Anaheim, former Anaheim Police Department detective Darren Wyatt, former Public Information Officer Lt. Bob Dunn, former Deputy Chief Craig Hunter and former Chief John Welter, among others, in the lawsuit.
The issue revolves around arrests made in the cold case investigation of the killing of Elizabeth Begaren on Jan. 17, 1998, along the Riverside (91) Freeway. Begaren’s husband, Nuzzio Begaren, was sentenced in May to 25 years to life for masterminding the murder.
Anaheim Police were tipped Dec. 9, 2009, by a Maywood Police Officer that an informant alleged a Rafael Garcia was involved in the killing. However, the detective did nothing to pursue the tip, Miranda’s attorneys say in a trial brief.
Wyatt reopened an investigation of the case and met with the law enforcement official who passed on the tip in 2009, Miranda’s attorneys argue. The officer said the informant identified the suspect as Rafael Garcia Miranda, the attorneys say in the trial brief.
During questioning of Miranda, Wyatt is accused by the plaintiff’s attorneys of telling Miranda, “that he was going to confess to his involvement in the Begaren murder or his kids would be taken away,” the trial brief alleges.
When Miranda insisted on his innocence, Wyatt, “used force to compel Miranda’s confession by kicking him and pressing his head against the table. This interrogation was both audio recorded and video recorded,” the plaintiff’s attorneys argue in the trial brief.
The video recording was later “inadvertently” destroyed, according to Anaheim’s attorneys. They say the audio recording would reflect only some level of noise consistent with the claim of brutality.
It was later determined Miranda had nothing to do with the murder and was released by prosecutor Larry Yellin.
—Staff and wire reports