About three years ago in Highland Park, the Los Angeles Police Department’s DUI task force was scouring the roads for drunk drivers. LAPD Officer Cecilio Flores observed a woman roll through two stop signs before pulling her over. Upon stopping the vehicle, Officer Flores observed the telltale signs of intoxication; bloodshot eyes and the smell of alcohol. Officer Flores radioed LAPD Officers Craig Allen and Phillip Walters to assist with the DUI arrest.
The driver was given field sobriety tests, which she failed, and was then arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence. Officer Allen began writing up the paperwork for the case. In the paperwork, however, Officer Allen stated that he personally observed the suspected drunk driver and that it was he and Officer Walters who initiated the DUI stop.
Both Officer Allen and Officer Walters also testified in separate hearings that they personally witnessed the woman allegedly driving drunk. In fact, Officer Allen provided specific details about the incident.
It wasn’t until the woman’s California DUI attorney obtained Officer Flores’s dispatch audio tapes, that it was discovered that Officer Flores had observed the suspected drunk driver and had initiated the DUI stop, not Officers Allen and Walters.
Prosecutors dropped the California DUI case against the woman and instead filed perjury charges against Officers Allen and Walters.
It is very, very rare that I agree with prosecutors. However, this time, I think I might.
According to 89.3 KPCC Southern California Public Radio, prosecutor Rosa Alarcon said, “The defendant’s made a conscious decision to lie.” Officer Allen’s attorney, Bill Seki, disagreed. “There was no motive.” He said. “there was nothing to gain.”
Quite the contrary, if Officer Allen and Officer Walters were credited with the DUI stop and arrest, they do, quite possibly, have something to gain. California DUI task force officers are often given promotions and other advancements partly based on their California DUI arrest rate. This was disclosed on cross examination by California DUI task force members in a California DUI trial that I was involved in.
At the perjury trial, jurors agreed with the defense’s assertion that the officers merely made a careless mistake in filling out the paperwork. Both officers were acquitted in late April of this year. Officer Allen, who lost his job with the LAPD, hopes that the verdict will help with his appeal to be reinstated. Officer Walters, who is facing an internal investigation, hopes that the verdict will help his case with the investigation.