Do SoCal Cops Shoot First, Lie Later?

[Moxley Confidential] In recent police-brutality cases, jurors decided the violent cops are also brazen liars

Ask prominent Santa Ana-based attorney Federico Sayre what ties together two recent, notable police-brutality trials he argued, and the former U.S. Marine officer won't hesitate to answer.

"In both cases, the key question was: 'Were the cops telling the truth?'" says Sayre, the onetime head of the local Hispanic Bar Association. "And in both cases, juries concluded the cops weren't being honest. The officers had been willing to lie under oath."

It wasn't long ago that police in Orange County enjoyed reputations for honesty, as virtuous heroes. However, in the past decade, we've seen cops rape women, molest boys, steal cocaine from evidence lockers, perpetrate domestic violence, falsify official reports, assault handcuffed suspects, lie on the witness stand, knowingly arrest innocent people, party with organized-crime figures, accept bribes and destroy evidence. Last month, a jury convicted an LAPD detective of committing a sadistic murder.

With Orange County residents alarmed over the savage killing of Kelly Thomas by Fullerton police last July and awaiting trials of two involved cops, questions about police credibility will remain a hot topic for the foreseeable future. Yet, for most of us, police corruption still isn't tangible. That's not true for Anaheim's Ernest Raymond Rodriguez, one of Sayre's clients.

In May 2009, Rodriguez foolishly lost his temper and broke a Belmont Shore shop window near Legends Sports Bar. Confronted by the bar's bouncers, Rodriguez agreed to stay until cops arrived. Jonathan A. Steinhauser, a culinary host turned Long Beach cop, didn't believe Rodriguez adequately complied with his commands and struck him with a baton. The man put up his arms to protect himself and gained control of the weapon. The cop pulled out his Glock handgun and fired three bullets that incredibly put nine holes in Rodriguez.

"Thankfully, all the shots missed vital organs," Sayre says.

Police can legally use deadly force to defend themselves from real threats. To justify the shooting, Steinhauser claimed Rodriguez approached him while holding the baton as though it were "a baseball bat," a stance the cop saw as a potential fatal threat. (Note regarding the Thomas killing: Steinhauser testified that cops strike a suspect's torso to gain compliance or the head to inflict lethal damage; Fullerton cops targeted Thomas' head.)

"The way [Rodriguez] was holding the baton was up around the shoulder area, high enough that it would have been at my head level," the cop explained to Sayre during a deposition for a civil lawsuit against the city of Long Beach. "[The baton] was moving forward. . . . [I fired] three shots in rapid succession. . . . After the third shot, he fell to the ground and didn't pose a threat to me."

But five eyewitnesses, including ex-U.S. Marine David Irizarry, dispute the cop's tale. According to Irizarry, Rodriguez never moved toward Steinhauser or held the baton in a threatening way. In fact, Irizarry saw the man toss the baton over his shoulder. He testified that Rodriguez then stood still with his arms up and, to show his hands were empty, held his palms open to Steinhauser. Irizarry said that's when the cop began unnecessarily shooting.

"I was looking at Mr. Rodriguez when he tossed the baton behind him, and then I just heard shots," he testified.

Irizarry became Sayre's star witness at the 2011 trial, which ended in Rodriguez's favor. Last month, U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter upheld the verdict. He also ordered Long Beach to pay about $280,000 in damages and legal costs, including Sayre's $700-per-hour fee.

Sayre's other recent victory over police brutality began with a Nov. 5, 2009, LAPD-surveillance operation on a San Pedro residence in a heavily Latino neighborhood. Despite not seeing any drugs, the officers—Alan Coleman and Dana Lovato—weaved together three observations they thought justified a raid: a male stood in the front-yard area; during a 12-minute period, two vehicles drove up, stopped and talked to the man before driving away; and a young man riding a skateboard passed their observation point, politely said, "Hey," and then stopped briefly near the house under surveillance.

"I'd been discovered," Coleman asserted later in a sworn deposition. "This was, from my observation, narco activity."

In reality, the observations alone—a man standing in a front yard, two briefly stopping vehicles and a friendly skateboarder—meant zilch. It wasn't suspicious that Enrique Hernandez stood in front of that residence because he lived there with his parents. In fact, he wasn't alone outside. But the other people weren't drug dealers, either. They included Hernandez's two best, lifelong friends: 19-year-old restaurant banquet server Gustavo Dorado and 18-year-old Damian Ramirez, a trade-school student.

The cops thought they'd entered the neighborhood undetected. They were clueless that Hernandez and his friends saw them hiding. Because they'd been doing nothing illegal, the men were equally clueless they were the ones being watched. "I guess, in a way, we were being nosy to see what happened [to bring the police]," Dorado later recalled. "[We thought] they were looking for somebody."

When officers approached, the young men didn't flee. The cops began questioning and heard someone say, "Do you want me to get down from the tree?"

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22 comments
Paul Orloff
Paul Orloff

No words- The article speaks for itself!

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best new car loan rates

I'd been discovered," Coleman asserted later in a sworn deposition. "This was, from my observation, narco activity."

Grumpy_gorilla2u
Grumpy_gorilla2u

This says nothing about operating a bicycle in the opposite direction of traffic while ON A SIDEWALK. Which is what the ticket was for that got dismissed because it was a VIOLATION of State Law and not in the LOCAL MUNICIPAL CODE LAWS, THE COP LIED AND I GOT THE TICKET DISMISSED. IT COST THEM MORE MONEY THAN THE TICKET WAS WORTH IN THE FIRST PLACE.

CVC Section 21200 Laws Applicable to Bicycle Use Peace Officer ExemptionLaws Applicable to Bicycle Use: Peace Officer Exemption 21200. (a) A person riding a bicycle or operating a pedicab upon a highway has all the rights and is subject to all the provisions applicable to the driver of a vehicle by this division, including, but not limited to, provisions concerning driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, and by Division 10 (commencing with Section 20000), Section 27400, Division 16.7 (commencing with Section 39000), Division 17 (commencing with Section 40000.1), and Division 18 (commencing with Section 42000), except those provisions which by their very nature can have no application. (b) (1) A peace officer, as defined in Chapter 4.5 (commencing with Section 830) of Title 3 of Part 2 of the Penal Code, operating a bicycle during the course of his or her duties is exempt from the requirements of subdivision (a), except as those requirements relate to driving under the influence of alcoholic beverages or drugs, if the bicycle is being operated under any of the following circumstances:

(A) In response to an emergency call.

(B) While engaged in rescue operations.

(C) In the immediate pursuit of an actual or suspected violator of the law.

(2) This subdivision does not relieve a peace officer from the duty to operate a bicycle with due regard for the safety of all persons using the highway.

Amended Sec. 3, Ch. 614, Stats. 2010. Effective January 1, 2011.

Grumpy_gorilla2u
Grumpy_gorilla2u

That is damn good advice and I am very glad that that was posted, so much so that I have saved it to and email and plan on printing it out later.

1. 88% of Police Officers are liars and that is a conservative figure. Where you see this is in most of their police reports AND court room testimony. All police reports are exagerated, filled with lies and made up facts. When they get on the stand OMG watch the lies spew forth

2. Police Officers enjoy seeing people hurt if they believe they are guilty of something

3. Most Police Officers, not all but most are bigger criminals than those they arrest. They commit perjury on the stand, they file false reports, they physically abuse and assault people, verbally and physically abuse their spouse and drink and drive drunk.

4. Police Officers live the standard "You can't break the law if you are the law"

5. They live, breath and socialize only with police officers. It creates a very unhealthy enviorment which creates corruption.

6. Police K9 Officers love when their Police Dog "gets in bite time" on the job. They will announce it in briefing to other police officers "Hey my dog needs some bite time so lets see if we can make it happen this shift"

925 person
925 person

Being a retired Police officer from here in So California let me educated the public with truth about Police Officers.

1. 88% of Police Officers are liars and that is a conservative figure. Where you see this is in most of their police reports AND court room testimony. All police reports are exagerated, filled with lies and made up facts. When they get on the stand OMG watch the lies spew forth

2. Police Officers enjoy seeing people hurt if they believe they are guilty of something

3. Most Police Officers, not all but most are bigger criminals than those they arrest. They commit perjury on the stand, they file false reports, they physically abuse and assault people, verbally and physically abuse their spouse and drink and drive drunk.

4. Police Officers live the standard "You can't break the law if you are the law"

5. They live, breath and socialize only with police officers. It creates a very unhealthy enviorment which creates corruption.

6. Police K9 Officers love when their Police Dog "gets in bite time" on the job. They will announce it in briefing to other police officers "Hey my dog needs some bite time so lets see if we can make it happen this shift"

The days of holding a Police Officer in high esteem are a thing of the past and gone. Today's police officer is not what we had decades ago.

Grumpy_gorilla2u
Grumpy_gorilla2u

The police are a gang of thugs and the police unions back them up. No reaction from the female cop that I walked behind on a motorcycle that I said hi too with a shake of my head.

Grumpy_gorilla2u
Grumpy_gorilla2u

'They search my car and never find shit'.

Illegal Search and Siezure.

The OCDA's office never charges or convicts cops.

Johnrose7588
Johnrose7588

Typical police gang bullshit. Try going to lake forest where the cops are so bord they pull over anybody who looks suspicious for bullshit broken tail lights. Ive been pulled over 6 times comming to and from work by some lyin ass pigs for a broken tail light that works completely fine just for the filthy pig to want to see if im on probation or perole. Only to see the disappointment on the pigs record that this bald headed white boy has no record. They search my car and never find shit. Theyre just fishing because there is no real crime in lake forest anyways. I tell my kids be a fireman or politician . Fuck the police,a bunch of crooks

Athirson
Athirson

The only motive for cops to shoot first and lie later is if they think they can get away with it; that the believe that they are a law unto themselves. Not surprising that OC KKKops act this way, given that Orange KKKounty jurors believe their bullshit stories as often as they do. You get what you deserve

Grumpy_gorilla2u
Grumpy_gorilla2u

"But thier lives where changed for ever because some cop lied". A cop lied to me and I got the ticket dismissed by a commissioner/judge So I know that police/cops lie!. How do you think that those people feel when they got pepper sprayed in the face by campus police/cops at UC Davis in Sacramento over student protests. I've heard that this has happened at several campuses, it's even happened to people that did nothing wrong, The cop/s just decided to pepper spray someone which is assault by the cop/s.

GoSuckABananna
GoSuckABananna

I know, I know. We've all heard the story before.................

Nationwide Strip
Nationwide Strip

You know when it comes to a lying Cop, they all do. They have been and will always be trained on how to write reports. That is it. Funny stuff....can we get them to all wear the hero cam? Hey it slow down this crime wave from the blue team. These are only the cases that get some attention, you know there are a lot more, people may not have died. But they there lives where changed for ever because some cop lied. Sure there may be some good cops and hopefuly they will out number the bad. But til then be careful.

SugeAveryLemonade
SugeAveryLemonade

I want to buy this man a beer. I hope he stays safe. Some of these cowards and liars don't want their ugly deeds coming to light.

CHS
CHS

So, none of the misconduct cited in the 3rd paragraph of this article happened prior to "the last decade"? That's a crock.

R. Scott Moxley
R. Scott Moxley

Dear "CHS": I didn't write that OC police officers were crime free 11 years ago and prior. My list simply focused on cases in the last decade. Nevertheless, public exposure to disgusting police corruption has dramatically increased since the creation of this newspaper in 1995. That is one of the reasons dirty cops hate me and OC Weekly ;)

trudat
trudat

Why would cop abuse go away when the lawsuit settlements and judgments are paid by the innocent taxpayers? Most of the time the actual violators walk away scot free. So why wouldn't they continue to abuse? In the last 5 years OCSD has been dinged for at least $15M in police abuse cases. All borne by the innocent taxpayers. None of the egregious activities that resulted in the large lawsuit awards have been investigated by the Office of Independent Review (OIR) which was created by the OC Board of Supes after Caronagate for that specific purpose. Go look at the OIR website to see what type of cases it actually reviews. It's a farce. The abuse is sanctioned. If it quacks, waddles and has feathers it's a duck. Take off your blinders.

Daniel Heredia
Daniel Heredia

Yes cops lie. But, good cops will not protect lying cops anymore. The price is too high.However, the truth can always be manipulated. I think this attorney Mr. Sayre did an excellent job in finding out the truth.

Ebe006
Ebe006

These law enforcement ooficers who lie and are corrupt need to be fired and charged for violations of law. They make good police look bad.

909Jeff
909Jeff

(Note regarding the Thomas killing: Steinhauser testified that cops strike a suspect's torso to gain compliance or the head to inflict lethal damage; Fullerton cops targeted Thomas' head.)

I know for a fact that they instruct recruits at Fullerton Colleges Police Acadamy that if you strike a suspect in the head that it is considered use of lethal force and you will be required to justify it as such... Unless of course your Sgt and Captain and Union reps are crooked then it gets swept under the rug

Point being, is that Cops are told from initial training that striking a person in the head is a use of lethal force.

Good Story Moxley...so far this year we are on a 3:10 ratio! 3 good stories for every 10 shitty ones! Look at it this way if it were baseball a .300 avg is good!

I JOKE!

Grumpy_gorilla2u
Grumpy_gorilla2u

"The citizens have a right to protect themselves from the police". - Orange County District Attorney Anthony (Tony) Rackauckas in the Kelly Thomas Case on KFI 640 AM Talk Radio on the John and Ken Show.

Grumpy_gorilla2u
Grumpy_gorilla2u

So if he exposes lying cops then have him go after Huntington Beach Police say in another story on OC Weekly that thier helicopter doesn't fly around at 2:00 o'clock in the morning but it woke me up at 2:14 AM on 4/5/2012 over the apartment and I could hear it flying in the distance too. What are they looking for at 2:14 AM. Ground this copter, it's flying more than the Costa Mesa one that they canceled the helicopter program in Costa Mesa over.

 
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