Cop Costs Taxpayers $60,000 And One (1) Drug Bust After Lying About Almost Everything Related To The Traffic Stop

from the blowing-it-like-pro dept

Oh my. What fun it must have been for this officer to find out his lies were contradicted by his partner's body camera footage. Thanks to these lies, Officer Joshua Bates of the San Jose Police Department is now former officer Josh Bates, target of a federal civil rights lawsuit. But his troubles began during the traffic stop, culminating in this (first) judicial vindication of Cosme Grijalva.

Saying he was “troubled” by the testimony, Superior Court Judge Eric Geffon threw out the drug case in October against former suspect Cosme Grijalva, after the prosecution dismissed the charges. The City Council on Tuesday agreed to settle a civil-rights lawsuit filed by attorney Jaime Leaños on Gijalva’s behalf for $59,900.

No charges and a cash settlement. That's the way things break when officers lie. And lie Bates did. Several times

First, he trapped himself in a lie during cross examination. While seeking to obtain consent to search Grijalva's car, Bates used his phone to contact a translator to help bridge the language gap. Pushed for details on this mysterious translator -- one that had changed sexes during the course of his testimony -- Bates finally settled on calling the translator "she." Then he admitted it wasn't a department translator, but rather someone named Lilia... who just happened to be Bates' wife.

Body-camera video recorded by Bates’ partner, Ian Hawkley, who is also named in the suit, shows Bates telling his wife over the phone: “So what you’re going to do is you’re going to tell this person that I know there is methamphetamine in the car — crystal, and you are going to tell him that I’m going to get a dog who’s going to come over and is going to sniff and tear their car apart.”

Hawkley's video came as a surprise to Bates. Not a complete surprise, though. At one point in the recording, Hawkley let Bates know he was "in the red" (recording) and had been "for awhile." By that point, too much damage had been done. Bates had already called his wife to translate his threat for Grijalva and was engaged in a warrantless search of Grijalva's van without his consent. Bates did not activate his camera, violating PD policy. He also admitted to trying to get Hawkley to deactivate his body cam.

Bates apparently had an ongoing aversion to complying with the Constitution and PD policies.

There is evidence suggesting this might not have been a one-time instance for Bates. According to court documents filed by Singh, the week before Bates’ encounter with Grijalva, he and another officer stopped and arrested a bicyclist on suspicion of alleged marijuana possession. Body-worn camera footage reportedly showed that Bates omitted mentioning a pat-down search in his police report on the incident.

Other video from that case also shows Bates having a conversation with another officer about how to come up with probable cause to make an enforcement stop when there is nothing readily apparent.

Bates also fudged the paperwork in this case. He tried to align his testimony with his bogus police reports but got tripped up by his own faulty memory and his partner's recording of the incident. And that has netted him two lawsuits and an early exit from his law enforcement career. Bates resigned shortly after this disastrous courtroom performance. With any luck, he'll be employed by another law enforcement agency before too long. You know how it is with bad hombres like this. They get sprung on technicalities and are back on the streets (in uniform) within days or weeks of an unceremonious sacking/resignation-tendering.

The only thing in this story that makes it an anomaly is the resignation. Other than that, it's par for the course. Cops lie. And the reason they do it so frequently is that they almost always get away with it. Cameras are changing that… slowly. But they're only slightly better than nothing at all at this point. The sad thing is, we'll just have to take what we can get because law enforcement agencies clearly aren't interested in upsetting the apple cart and letting all these "bad apples" roll into the nearest gutter. Change comes from within and law enforcement has proven itself highly resistant to change.

Filed Under: 4th amendment, body cameras, civil rights, cosme grijalva, ian hawkley, josh bates, san jose, traffic stop


Reader Comments

Subscribe: RSS

View by: Time | Thread


  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 20 Jul 2018 @ 11:18pm

    Re: What to do, what to do...

    Scott Greenfield has a related post up over at Simple Justice called The Problem With “Make The Cop Pay” Solution

    He really buries the lead. "The problem is that the cop may be judgment proof. If the cop has no wealth or assets, there is no fund from which to collect a judgment."

    Okay, that's a problem, but you'd have the same problem if a broke private citizen decided to frame you and assault you. Scott doesn't mention anything about police pensions, which are often generous (unlike "average" workers who don't usually get pensions nowadays) and can be garnished... and have often resulted in outrage when paid to disgraced cops.

    It's fairly straightforward that people should be liable for their own illegal behavior, and go to prison for criminal behavior like assault.* That covering for the crimes of others is itself illegal. That employers can face responsibility when failure to properly manage their employees causes injury.

    * (Your proposal is all good, but the behavior in Scott's example would result in jail time for any assailant that's not a cop.)


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here



Subscribe to the Techdirt Daily newsletter




Comment Options:

  • Use markdown. Use plain text.
  • Remember name/email/url (set a cookie)

Follow Techdirt
Techdirt Gear
Shop Now: Techdirt Logo Gear
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Essential Reading
Techdirt Deals
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Techdirt Insider Chat
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads
Recent Stories
Advertisement
Report this ad  |  Hide Techdirt ads

Close

Email This

This feature is only available to registered users. Register or sign in to use it.