What If You Gave A (Drug) War And Nobody Came? Deputies Answer Rhetorical Question With Planted Evidence
from the internal-affairs-notes-crime-numbers-are-on-the-rise dept
Crime numbers are down. Police militarization is up. The War on Drugs continues to be fought with as much intensity as ever even as the country sides with legalization. So, when a lack of crime meets budgets, weaponry and expectations -- all primed for battle -- what's a poor law enforcement officer to do?
Former deputies Julio Cesar Martinez, 39, and Anthony Manuel Paez, 32, have been charged with two felony counts of conspiring to obstruct justice and altering evidence, according to the Los Angeles County district attorney's office. Martinez faces two additional felony counts of perjury and filing a false report.The two deputies had already had one charge -- possession of ecstasy -- but that apparently wasn't enough. Why settle for a low ball possession charge when you can add months or years to the sentence?
Before he got a search warrant, Martinez kicked a wall outlet and shut down power to the room, according to the complaint. Paez then allegedly opened a drawer, pulled out a gun and put it on a chair.This led to Yang being charged with "possessing ecstasy in the presence of a firearm" (firearms are apparently very impressionable...), to which he pleaded no contest. Another person was charged with possession of an unregistered handgun.
The complaint alleges Paez also planted a gun on top of an office desk, next to some ecstasy pills. At some point, Paez allegedly crawled under the desk and disabled the security camera system.
One year later, after Yang had already served his sentence, Internal Affairs discovered the video from inside the pot dispensary was "inconsistent" with filed reports. Or worded more accurately, the deputies' reports weren't backed up by the unblinking security camera. The unnamed "suspect" was cut loose. Yang, however, had already spent several months in jail, time the Sheriff's Department can't give back to him. Both officers face up to seven years in jail if found guilty and are currently out on $50,000 bail pending arraignment.
Is this an outlier, one of the exceptions to the rule? Probably. But there seems to be way too many of these "exceptions."
A police car dash cam captured Santa Clara deputies plotting to plant drugs in a woman’s home after their first illegal search turned up nothing, the woman claims in court.Once again, officers primed for the "War" found themselves faced with a dearth of combatants. No drugs and nothing to do but walk away empty-handed. For some reason, these deputies believed a lack of criminal activity would somehow be marked up as a loss in the War on Drugs. So, they decided to make a second "search" of the premises, this time while the fix was in.
Allison Ross, who was arrested after the second search of her home, sued the Santa Clara County Sheriff’s Department, its crime lab, Sheriff Laurie Smith, and 12 of her officers, in Federal Court.
Deputies then re-entered the home and ransacked it, opening and rummaging through drawers in the bedrooms and kitchens. They placed personal property from around the house into one area in an effort to make it appear that the items were in plain sight, the complaint states...These LEOs must be learning from their FBI heroes. If criminal activity fails to present itself, feel free to manufacture it. Of course, the FBI's tactics are a bit more subtle and require months of leading the easily-led until they've fallen into the agency's "terrorism" traps.
Because the deputies failed to find any drugs in the home, "they planted narcotics which were kept in one of the sheriff's vehicles. Statements to this effect can be heard over the vehicle dash camera on one of the defendant's vehicles," the lawsuit states...
[T[he officers are heard on the recording saying: 'the house is clean, there is no meth in the house', 'we're gonna spike that and we're gonna spike him.' 'I got the meth in the ——- car,'" the complaint states.
These deputies apparently didn't have the time or willingness to play the long con. They had made two (apparently illegal) sweeps and still hadn't come up with anything actionable. So, they took it upon themselves to "find" the justification they needed for their actions.
Another outlier? Sure, if you still have an inordinate amount of faith in your fellow human beings and believe law enforcement officers are less likely to be swayed by perverse incentives than, say, the guy a couple of cubicles over. But humans do human things, and those with a lot of power and very little accountability do human things that seriously damage other humans. And they do it more often than we'd hope, as Radley Balko points out.
And it certainly wouldn't be the first time drug cops have been caught doing so. Nor would it be the first time a crime lab analyst has been caught faking the results of drug tests.We know cops lie and that judges oblige them. Planting evidence is a physical lie and it's just as simple (simpler, even) as looking the defendant in the eye and telling him or her, along with the assembled court, things the person facing months or years in prison knows aren't true. And then going back to work, secure in the knowledge that if the suspect wasn't exactly guilty of what you claimed, they were probably guilty of something. They all are, even the ones that aren't -- and the cops have the tools, ability and access to ensure the "evidence" is exactly where it needs to be to make the charges stick.