Perry Mason Moment in LA Trial: Surprise Video Exonerates Defendant
Posted Jul 1, 2008 11:45 AM CDT
By Martha Neil
A drug possession trial in Los Angeles ended abruptly after dramatic courtroom developments. When a surprise videotape of the defendant's arrest was played in court Friday by the defense, it contradicted the testimony of two arresting police officers, who are now the focus of a new investigation.
On Monday, after prosecutors had a chance to review the videotape, which was taken by a surveillance camera at a nearby building, they acknowledged it was not consistent with the officers' sworn testimony, the Los Angeles Times reports. Superior Court Judge Monica Bachner then dismissed the cocaine possession case against Guillermo Alarcon Jr., 29, who works at a grocery store.
A police internal affairs investigation has now been launched against the two officers, who reportedly said in testimony that they chased Alarcon into an alley by his Hollywood apartment building and saw him throw away an object that turned out to be cocaine. However, the videotape shows it took a team of police more than 20 minutes to find the cocaine, which a defense lawyer says wasn't Alarcon's. Additionally, at one point an officer apparently tells another to "be creative" when writing the arrest report.
Deputy Public Defender Victor Acevedo, who represented Alarcon, said the case was "completely trumped up," apparently during courtroom comments to Bachner, according to the newspaper. "They have two officers who came into court and blatantly lied and planted evidence," he told the judge yesterday.