Hearing is believing

Hearing is believing

DA finds audio and other evidence exonerating Pasadena cops, union says

By André Coleman 05/30/2013

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In a surprising turn of events, the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office now claims to have located evidence that could clear two Pasadena police officers accused of misconduct in a homicide case.  

Officer Kevin Okamoto and Cpl. John Broghamer were accused of hiding three audio tapes in a murder case involving defendants Jerrell Sanford and Michael Grigsby, who are accused of killing Shawn Baptiste.

Baptiste, 18, was shot multiple times in a car shortly before 7:53 p.m. Feb. 7, 2007 near the intersection of Lincoln Avenue and Orange Grove Boulevard in Pasadena. Baptiste died the next morning.

Okamoto and Broghamer were accused of intentionally withholding evidence in the case, leading to a mistrial. Shortly after that, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez ordered a review of all cases handled by Okamoto and Broghamer.

Okamoto and Broghamer have faced misconduct allegations in other cases.

Okamoto was placed on administrative leave last year after he was accused of failing to provide audio recordings and witness contact information to attorneys involved in the criminal charges brought against Edward Damas for a 2009 bar fight at Wokcano restaurant in Old Pasadena.

 But according to a statement released by the Pasadena Police Officers Association on April 8, two Los Angeles deputy district attorneys “located a box that contained a large grey envelope labeled ‘Grigsby-Discovery Turnover.’” Inside that envelope were several recordings and two dozen pages of evidence related to the Wokcano incident that the two officers had turned over to Assistant District Attorney Paul Kim in 2009. Also in the box were other items related to the homicide case belonging to Kim.

“It was reported in several news articles that the two Pasadena detectives were ‘guilty of misconduct’ and that the judge was declaring a mistrial, not because of what the prosecutor did or didn’t do, but because what the police did or didn’t do,” the Pasadena Police Officers Association stated in a prepared statement. “The discovery items had, in fact, been turned over to the District Attorney’s Office in 2009.”
Due to the ongoing investigation, police spokeswoman Lt. Tracey Ibarra told the Pasadena Weekly that the department could not comment.

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Here's my conspiracy theory ...

The prosecutor's office and the police department take turns "protecting" each other. SO, several years ago a couple of grey-water law enforcers cause some potentially exculpatory evidence to disappear. Consequently, they "excessively" get in trouble and it (further) sullies their street-justice careers.

Now we all know that the police union is very powerful and retains a lot of dirt on a lot of people in their functionally private corporate files. We all know that a primary PU purpose is to help unwashed cops to escape the consequences of their less-than-stellar conduct. Now that the above-listed case is -- for most purposes -- a legal non-event for JS and MG (or maybe not ...), the missing evidence is fortuitously "discovered" and these badge-wearing gangbangers are opportunistically cleared of the most serious "alleged" wrongdoing that they (even unwittingly) helped produce.

Meanwhile, nobody in the L.A. District Attorneys Office will ever be investigated for what can only be deemed a most gross incompetence in handling chain-of-custody evidence. Ultimately? Virginity is restored to the appropriate union-cardholders and everybody in the Los Angeles law enforcement community smirks at yet another bullet dodged.


posted by DanD on 5/30/13 @ 09:32 p.m.

Bad cops don't produce wrongful convictions on their own ...



posted by DanD on 5/31/13 @ 05:10 a.m.

Dan: interview tapes are self authenticating so there is no chain of custody issue. What happened here is due to more than one factor. Criminal discovery is informal. It depends on a prosecutor to place a high priority to fulfill the duty to timely provide evidence in possession of the police to the defense. This was obviously not a priority with Mr. Kim in this case. He probably got the evidence when he was busy in another trial, set it aside and forgot about it. When the stuff hit the fan, he passed the blame, which oftentimes happens when things go wrong in law enforcement. Its lack of prosecutorial organization and priority instead of conspiracy. This is not the first time the ethics of Kim, Broghammer and Okamoto have been called into question, but this one clearly falls on Kim.

posted by true reason on 5/31/13 @ 08:34 a.m.

Whether evidence is discovered, bagged-and-tagged, or produced by way of recorded interview, Chain-of-Custody is the primary method of sustaining all such evidence for a trial. There are (or should be) established procedures and clearly defined depositories for all such collected evidence. For a lawyer of any brand (prosecution, defense, and/or the referee class) to violate any of these chain-of-custody practices is at least as severe as perjury(-by-omission).

Without an officially recognized interview tape, how can any convening authority authenticate precisely what was established during said interview? Transcripts are only as good as hearsay. Unaltered recordings are functionally first-person evidence and requires chain-of-custody oversight, protecting both the integrity and timely production of all such evidence.

As far as the disappearance of this evidence from the record, do you think only one person was responsible? Then that MFer who functionally stole it should still get thrown under the judicial bus, even if his/her theft was "inadvertent."

Whether through incompetence or intent, any lack of "prosecutorial organization" IS a criminal circumstance, and should be devastatingly pursued ... or do you believe, TR, that such (potentially) life-destroying failures within any judicial infrastructure should only be marginally disapproved of?

As far as LE-inclusive conspiracy to deprive defendants of exculpatory evidence is concerned? It happens all the fukn time ~



posted by DanD on 6/03/13 @ 10:29 p.m.

Not quite to the level of Chicago yet, huh?



posted by DanD on 6/04/13 @ 10:33 a.m.
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