Another report of alleged misconduct rocks SDPD
SAN DIEGO (CNS) – Joining at least 10 department colleagues caught up in misconduct investigations over the last several months, a veteran San Diego police officer was on unpaid leave Friday and facing a possible DUI charge stemming from a recent off-duty South Bay traffic incident.
The case stems from a report by another motorist about the driving of the 19-year SDPD officer, whose name was withheld, early last Friday evening on Ithaca Court in Chula Vista, according to a three-sentence news release from police in that city south of San Diego.
“No arrest was made at that time, but there is a continuing investigation into the incident, and the (Chula Vista Police) Department intends to forward a case to the (District Attorney's) Office for … review,” the statement reads. “SDPD's command was notified of the incident the evening it occurred, and CVPD is cooperating with their internal investigation.'
Bernard Gonzales, a Chula Vista police spokesman, said his department would release nothing further about the case and referred all inquiries to SDPD officials, who likewise declined to reveal details, citing rules limiting public disclosure of personnel issues.
But sources who spoke on condition of anonymity said the policeman, a Chula Vista resident, is suspected of driving while intoxicated.
The officer, a member of the SDPD Training Division, will remain on mandatory leave without pay pending the results of an internal investigation, public-affairs Lt. Andra Brown told reporters in front of downtown San Diego police headquarters.
A succession of other officers with the department have been accused of various crimes this year, ranging from off-duty DUI to on-the-job sexual assaults. Of those, six have been arrested.
In response to the rash of officer-misconduct cases, San Diego police Chief William Lansdowne publicly apologized and pledged to immediately institute a comprehensive in-house reform plan designed to prevent such embarrassments in the future.
“I clearly understand that this activity, conduct … (of the) officers involved in these cases has tarnished the image of this police department,” the chief said during a May 10 news conference. “And we'll work hard to repair that, but it'll take years to rebuild that relationship, I believe, between us and the community of San Diego.”
The next day, a 26-year-old SDPD officer was arrested for allegedly raping a prostitute in Presidio Park while on duty. The accusations against Daniel Edward Dana of Escondido, a three-year member of the department, promptly cost him his job and left him facing a maximum of more than 17 years in prison if convicted.
Four days prior to Dana's arrest, San Diego police Officer William Johnson, a 12-year SDPD veteran, was jailed on suspicion of driving while intoxicated. Johnson was off-duty when he was taken into custody by Chula Vista police following a late-night collision that left another motorist with minor injuries. He is working a desk assignment pending the outcome of the case.
Early this month, SDPD officials acknowledged that an internal investigation was under way into whether a patrolman used excessive force while arresting an allegedly drunk and combative man outside a North Park nightspot.
The officer, whose name has been withheld, and three department colleagues struggled to subdue 38-year-old Shawn Allen McPherren in front of the Alibi bar late on the night of May 1. A witness captured the arrest — during which the patrolman in question appeared to forcefully punch McPherren in the midsection a half-dozen times — with a cellphone camera and contacted television news stations, which aired the images.
The following day, an SDPD motorcycle officer pleaded not guilty to driving under the influence and hit-and-run in connection with an off-duty Feb. 22 traffic accident on Murray Ridge Road in Serra Mesa. David Hall, 41, faces up to three years and eight months in prison if convicted of the charges.
In late April, a judge ordered San Diego police Sgt. Kenneth H. Davis, 47, to stand trial on one count of stalking a fellow officer he had dated and three counts of making harassing telephone calls to her. Davis, a 23-year department veteran, could serve up to three years in prison if found guilty of the allegations, which came to light in February.
On April 11, an SDPD patrolman was involved in an off-duty dispute during which he allegedly assaulted a 17-year-old neighbor boy he caught smoking marijuana. The officer, a Mira Mesa resident whose name has not been released by police, was transferred to desk duty pending the outcome of an internal investigation and a concurrent review by the District Attorney's Office.
In March, 42-year-old Art Perea, a vice officer with the department, resigned amid accusations of raping a Point Loma Nazarene University student at an El Cajon home. He has not been charged in the case, which remains under investigation.
On March 11, San Diego police Officer Anthony Arevalos, 40, was arrested after a woman accused him of sexually assaulting her following a traffic stop in the Gaslamp Quarter. Four other women subsequently came forward and made similar allegations against Arevalos, who has pleaded not guilty to 18 felony counts, including sexual battery, false imprisonment, assault under color of authority and receiving a bribe.
On March 24, San Diego police Officer Roel Tungcab was arrested by sheriff's deputies in the aftermath of a fight with his wife at their Imperial Beach home. Tungcab, 39, faces misdemeanor domestic violence charges.
On March 29, an SDPD officer was videotaped wrestling with an allegedly inebriated and disruptive soccer fan at Qualcomm Stadium. The 49-second recording, posted on YouTube the following day, shows the officer on the floor of a stadium concourse, struggling to subdue 27-year-old David Rangel of San Diego.
The officer, whose name has not been released, put Rangel in a chokehold from behind and finally shoved his head onto the concrete, causing a loud smacking sound when the side of the suspect's face and the palm of his hand hit the floor. Police officials opened an internal probe into the arrest.
Less recently, a San Diego policeman and his wife were criminally charged for allegedly looting and trashing their foreclosed home in Riverside County out of spite.
Robert Conrad Acosta, 39, and his wife Evette Acosta, 35, were accused last autumn of burglarizing and vandalizing their former residence, a six- bedroom tract home east of Murrieta. Robert Acosta was put on paid administrative leave pending the resolution of the case. He resigned from the department late last year.
During this afternoon's briefing, the SDPD spokeswoman sought to reassure San Diegans that the spate of officer misconduct cases, while troubling in nature and in number, do not reflect the overall quality of the agency's sworn and civilian personnel.
“We're asking for the public's patience in (our efforts at) working through this,” Brown said.