Police union, prosecutors say far-left DA’s Chief of Staff threatened officer after being arrested

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LOS ANGELES, CA – The Chief of Staff for Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón allegedly threatened to include an Azusa police officer who arrested him earlier this month for public intoxication in a database of dishonest police officers, according to several prosecutors and the police union.

Joseph Iniguez, 36, became belligerent and threatening toward the officer after the Tesla driven by his fiancé was stopped for an illegal U-turn around 11:30 p.m. Dec. 11 in the 900 block East Alosta Avenue.

Police arrested Iniquez and transported him to the police station for processing. He was released the next morning.

Azusa Police Officers Association said Wednesday that Iniguez threatened to retaliate for an arrest, by saying he would put the arresting officer’s name on the County’s “Brady List.”

A Giglio or “Brady list” is a list compiled usually by a prosecutor’s office or a police department containing the names and details of law enforcement officers who have had sustained incidents of untruthfulness, criminal convictions, candor issues, or some other type of issue placing their credibility into question.

The list is authorized by the 1963 Supreme Court case of Brady v. Maryland, which allows the list to be shared with defendants and their attorneys and is often career-ending for any officer added.

Iniguez’s position in the DA’s Office places him in charge of the Justice System Integrity Division, which tracks dishonest police officers. Azusa Police Officers Association president CJ Wilkins said the threat is serious and unacceptable:

“It absolutely is an abuse of power. When he was released, this is when he made the Brady comment that he was going to put my officer on the Brady list, which is a list none of us want to be on.

“My officer did nothing to deserve that threat.”

Iniguez has filed a complaint against the unidentified arresting officer, calling his arrest unjust and retaliatory. He claims the officer arrested him only for video-taping the traffic stop.

Police union, prosecutors say far-left DA's Chief of Staff threatened officer after being arrested

Wilkins said he is confident Iniguez’s complaint against the officer will be dismissed:

“The problem is Mr. Iniguez is refusing to relay all of the facts of the incident. The facts of the case will eventually be released, and when this frivolous and retaliatory complaint is complete, I am most certain the officer will be found to have been in complete compliance with the state law, and department policy.

“The officer that arrested Mr. Iniguez did so with full legal authority and without malice.”

Alex Bastian, Special Advisor to DA Gascón, said the DA has “full confidence” in their Chief of Staff:

“We are aware of the incident. The District Attorney has the utmost confidence in Joseph.

“Given that this is a personnel matter, we are unable to get into any specific details of this incident at this time. We have notified the Azusa Police Department to direct or refer any criminal case to the California Attorney General’s Office.”

Although the DA’s Office officially supported Iniguez, several prosecutors have spoken out. Asking not to be identified for fear of retaliation, prosecutors spoke to the Southern California News Group about the threats.

One prosecutor recalled:

“At one point he told the officer that pulled them over ‘you f—– up’ and then said he’d put him in the Brady system.”

Another prosecutor said the biggest issue at hand is that Iniguez remains in his post within the DA’s Office:

“So, he gets arrested, threatens a cop, and comes to work on Monday overseeing (justice integrity) officers.

“Office policy requires he notify the bureau director, then be removed from that position pending an investigation which never happened.”

Azusa Police Chief Mike Bertelsen issued a statement on Facebook stating that the union did not speak for the department, and he criticized the union for getting involved:

“Unfortunately, police unions sometimes engage in bullying tactics and “no confidence votes” when their departments initiate more accountability. Sadly, this is the latest example.

The union’s leaders have resisted implementation of body-worn cameras and internal-affairs investigations into alleged on-duty and off-duty misconduct.

“I am disappointed that the union’s leadership is engaging in this type of behavior at a time when they should be working with us to prevent and solve crime, fill vacancies and ensure our policies meet the expectations of our community.”

 

Wilkins said the chief is bowing to political pressures:

“Fortunately for Mr. Iniguez, Azusa Police Department is currently being led by a police chief who is cowering to Iniguez’s political pressure.

“The chief will seek to please Mr. Iniguez and investigate a by-the-book arrest, instead of supporting his officer, who is a seasoned field supervisor, with several awards that he has received throughout his career for being exemplary and brave.”

Wilkins praised the officer involved for the awards he has received during his career, including from Mothers Against Drunk Driving, and said the union will continue to stand behind him:

“The Azusa Police Officers Association stands behind the officer that made the arrest, and for doing his job, unlike the department administration.

“Mr. Iniguez and his office are quick to blame officers for wrongdoing, but they refuse to look in the mirror to put any fault on themselves when they get caught so intoxicated in public they can no longer care for their own safety.”

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Far-left L.A. County D.A. George Gascón’s chief of staff arrested for public intoxication

December 22, 2021

 

LOS ANGELES, CA  – The chief of staff for Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón was arrested on suspicion of public intoxication earlier this month, according to authorities.

On December 11, 2021, at approximately 11:35 PM, Azusa Police Officers conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle in the area of the 900 block of East Alosta Ave. in the city of Azusa for a traffic violation, according to a police press release.

Joseph Iniguez, 36, was arrested for Penal Code section 647(f), known as misdemeanor public intoxication.

Iniguez was processed and later released from the custody of the Azusa Police Department early the next  morning as per standard practice for these types of arrests.

The press release notes that a “personnel complaint” had been filed because of the incident, and that the Azusa Police Department is cooperating with the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office.

The department declined further comment because of the on-going investigation into a personnel matter.

In an interview obtained by the Los Angeles Times on Tuesday morning, Iniguez said he and his fiancé were driving home from a wedding and had stopped at a drive-through restaurant in Azusa when police approached them.

The stop was initiated by police because of a traffic violation which occurred on a city street, according to Azusa Police Lt. Rocky Wenrick.

Iniguez said that the police asked his fiancé out of the car under suspicion of driving under the influence. He said he was concerned for her safety, he stepped out of the vehicle to film the intersection:

“I decided to get out of the car, stand near the car, on the passenger side, and I began to record.

“I wanted to record to preserve whatever was going to happen between that officer and my fiancé, because he was not DUI.”

The chief of staff said that police never asked him to return to his vehicle, but instead arrested him for public intoxication. He alleges police were targeting him in retaliation for filming them.

His fiancée was briefly handcuffed and detained, but was not charged in the incident.

Iniguez said he has filed an internal affairs complaint against the officer who arrested him. Wenrick, the Azusa police spokesman, declined to comment on Iniguez’s allegations.

Azusa police officers are not equipped with body or dash cameras, and the only video is that taken by Iniquez.

Gascón’s office said they are aware of the incident. Special advisor Alex Bastian said:

“The district attorney has the utmost confidence in Joseph. It’s a personnel matter so we can’t get into the specifics at this time.”

Iniguez’s case was referred to the district attorney’s office to determine whether criminal charges should be filed, according to the police department’s statement.

Given the apparent conflict of interest created by Iniguez’s position in the D.A.’s office, the case likely will be redirected to the California attorney general’s office. 

 

 

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