By JOHN ANTCZAK
LOS ANGELES – Three Los Angeles police officers have been accused of falsifying records that say the people they detained were gang members or employees, the prosecutors said on Friday.
Police department Metropolitan Division members were indicted on Thursday in a 59-point complaint, citing a conspiracy to obstruct the judiciary and several cases of submitting a false police report and providing false evidence.
The officers were identified as Braxton Shaw, 37; Michael Coblentz, 42, and Nicolas Martinez, 36.
Los Angeles Police Protective League directors, the union representing LAPD officials, expect the department to “fully, fairly and objectively investigate this matter to ascertain the facts and ensure that officials have their procedural and legal rights proven incorrect characterizations are corrected. "
Shaw faces the greatest potential liability. He was accused of falsifying 43 field interview cards and could face up to 32 years in prison if convicted.
His lawyer, Gregory G. Yacoubian, wrote in an email that he was confident that his client would be freed from wrongdoing and said that he had always acted on the instructions of the police command.
"Braxton has dedicated his personal life and law enforcement career to improving the quality of life for everyone," said Yacoubian.
The case are so-called field interview cards that are filled out by officials, in this case officials from the Metropolitan Division, who put crime-fighting units on the road.
The department announced in January that officers had been deployed at home or taken out of patrol after a mother complained in 2019 that her son had been incorrectly identified as a gang member and a police officer had started checking the records.
Prosecutors in the case of the three officers said the cards contained incorrect information and incorrectly identified dozens of people as gang members.
Some of the wrong information was used to register people in a state gang database, the prosecutor said.
The accused are accused of writing in some cases that a person admitted to being a gang member, but videos from body cameras showed that the people were not asked about gang membership.
Prosecutors have said in some cases that individuals have refused to join a gang, but the accused wrote that they admitted to being gang members.
District prosecutors were instructed to confirm all information from field interview cards with other evidence, including officers' body cameras.
The police issued a statement that did not identify the accused officers, but was released from duty and police powers in late January and referred to an administrative court "for the purpose of removal".
The other two officers were assigned to their homes and their powers as peace officers were suspended.
The department said 21 other officers were investigated regarding the use of the field ID.
Ten have been assigned to their homes, eight have been assigned administrative tasks, five are still in the field and one has retired.
In addition, all officials in the metropolitan area are being retrained to use the cards, and the frequency of body camera audits has increased, the department said.
The department said it no longer used the California Gang Database "for anything other than removing people."