DUI case dropped after arresting officer allegedly forwarded suspect's photos to his own phone

  • Print.

Two months ago it looked like a woman pulled over by California Highway Patrol officers on Aug. 29 for making an unsafe lane change was going to be facing a driving-under-the-influence case after she failed field sobriety tests and was arrested.

However, in a stunning reversal of fortune for the unidentified suspect, prosecutors declined to charge her, and one of the arresting officers is now under investigation in a potential felony case, according to the Contra Costa Times and the San Francisco Chronicle. That’s because he is accused of transferring photos of the 23-year-old in a state of undress that were stored on her cellphone onto his own cellphone while she was being booked at the Contra Costa County jail.

Although a record of the forwarded photos was deleted from the woman’s iPhone, the device was synced to her iPad via iCloud. Thus, when she used her iPad several days later, the woman discovered that six photos had been sent to a number she didn’t recognize while she was in jail.

She determined from her own investigation that the number to which the photos were sent belonged to one of the arresting officers, court records say. After she complained to authorities, jail surveillance video was obtained that supported her account.

The woman had given her cellphone password to the officer so he could search it for contact information on her behalf, the articles report. Her lawyer, Rick Madsen, says she did not give the officer permission to access her photos.

The 35-year-old officer is now on desk duty and an investigator with the Contra Costa district attorney’s office has recommended that a felony computer theft charge be pursued against him, the Times reports.

The newspaper says a search warrant states that a search of the officer’s home in mid-October discovered photographs of the woman and texts sent from her phone on his electronic devices.

Neither the Chronicle nor the Times was able to reach the officer for comment.

Madsen said he believes other CHP officers may have been involved in similar incidents.

“My client remains understandably distraught as we await further information about who else may possess the photos and what further investigation may uncover,” he told the Times.

Hat tip: Gawker

Give us feedback, share a story tip or update, or report an error.