Hearing is believing
DA finds audio and other evidence exonerating Pasadena cops, union says
By André Coleman 05/30/2013
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.