Three Los Angeles police officers were charged today with perjury and conspiracy for allegedly lying under oath in a drug possession case that was dismissed last year when a videotape sharply contradicted their testimony.
The felony charges were brought by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
In February, the U.S. Justice Department opened its own investigation into the officers' actions.
At issue are the actions of officers at a Hollywood apartment complex where a security camera documented the 2007 arrest of Guillermo Alarcon Jr.
At Alarcon's trial last year, Officers Richard Amio and Evan Samuel testified that they were on patrol in Los Angeles when they chased Alarcon, 29, into his Hollywood apartment building. The officers told jurors that they saw him throw away a black object.
They testified that Samuel quickly picked up the object and found about $260 worth of powder and crack cocaine inside. But footage from a security camera at the apartment building, which is managed by Alarcon's mother, showed that officers searched for more than 20 minutes before an object allegedly containing cocaine was found.
They were aided by other officers, including Manuel Ortiz, who testified about the case at a preliminary hearing in January. The quality of the tape, a copy of which was obtained by The Times, is poor and it is difficult to clearly hear what is being said. But at one point, soon after the drugs were found, an officer seems to make a reference to the arrest report that needed to be filled out.
"Be creative in your writing," the officer appears to tell another after the discovery. Alarcon's attorney argued at trial that his client was innocent and that the officers had planted evidence and then lied about it.
After viewing the videotape, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Monica Bachner dismissed the charges at the request of prosecutors. The judge also declared Alarcon factually innocent.