Yet another example of that “new professionalism” for you, Justice Scalia. And yet another example of a cop caught arresting someone falsely and lying on his police report only to be caught because a surveillance camera recorded what actually happened. Here are the facts.
A young woman named Agnes Lawless gets rear ended by another driver, Alberto Lopez Jr., at a stop light. Lopez leaves the scene of the accident. There was no serious damage, so Lawless and her friends continue on their way and stop at a convenience store. Lopez Jr., on the other hand, drives to a police station and informs his father, Alberto Lopez Sr., of what happened. And Lopez the Elder then takes his son in a squad car, goes to the convenience store, slaps Lawless around a bit and puts a gun to her head. Then for good measure, he arrests her for assaulting him.
Lawless and her friends filed complaints with the police department, but since it was a he said/they said and police officers are always believed over the public, those complaints weren’t taken seriously. Lopez made it sound rather lurid on his testimony about the incident:
At a preliminary hearing four days later, Officer Lopez testified that he’d come into the store and ordered Lawless and the three young men with her to the floor, and that “she freaked out, started punching, slapping and kicking me multiple times.”
And he didn’t bother to mention that this all involved his son:
In his arrest report, Officer Lopez mentioned the auto accident that had initiated the events, but never mentioned that his son had been involved, referring to him in the report only as “the witness.”
And best of all, Lopez and his fellow officers then tried to make sure there was no videotape that might show that they were lying:
The clerk on duty the night that Lopez confronted Lawless told investigators that three times after the incident, police officers spoke with him about the security tape and that two asked if he would erase it…
Ruiz told investigators that Lopez mentioned erasing the tape again after other officers arrived. He said that police visited him at the store twice the next day and asked him whether he would erase the tape. He also said that they had advised him to “help the cop out and testify for the cop.”
But then the store turned over their surveillance video and the cop’s story crumbled. The video shows Lopez walking in to the store, grabbing Lawless by the back of the neck and putting his gun to her head. Not knowing it was a cop, she pulled away and swung her arms at him. And she was then arrested for assault. The charges against her were dropped. An internal affairs investigation absolved the cops over questioning the clerk about the video.
Lopez Sr. was returned to duty 8 days later and the DA declined to press any charges against him. Here’s the surveillance video: