Usually when I write about officers falsifying DUI police reports, it’s because they’ve done so to create non-existent evidence to justify a DUI arrest and help secure a wrongful conviction. So when I see a story of officers falsifying evidence to hide a DUI, I take notice.
According to the Los Angeles Times, two LAPD officers have been charged with attempting to cover up a DUI-related collision by driving the drunk driver home and falsifying the police report.
Officers Rene Ponce and Irene Gomez were patrolling a neighborhood in Boyle Heights, California on October 26, 2014, when they responded to a crash involving a drunk driver. According to prosecutors, the drunk driver had collided into two parked cars.
Prior to Ponce and Gomez’s arrival, a neighbor was awakened by the sound of the collision and observed the man who crashed into his neighbors’ vehicles attempt to flee the scene. The neighbor, Larry Chavez, 63, and two other neighbors gave chase and eventually caught up with the man.
“We held him down till one of the cops came,” Chavez told The Times. “He was so drunk.”
However, instead of conducting the DUI investigation, Ponce, 39, and Gomez, 38, lied in their police report and said that the drunk driver fled the scene when, in fact, they drove him home to his apartment and told him to sleep it off.
Following an internal affairs investigation, Ponce and Gomez were charged with felony filing a false police report and conspiracy to commit an act injurious to the public, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney.
Ponce’s attorney declined to comment. Gomez’s attorney, on the other hand, maintains that his client did nothing wrong.
“My client has an outstanding record, with an outstanding reputation for truth and honesty,” Gomez’ attorney, Ira Salzman told The Los Angeles Times. “She’s well-respected by her peers.”
If convicted, the officers face up to three years in jail.
There is a misconception that DUI defense attorneys condone drunk driving and anything that helps a drunk driver get off the hook is a good thing. I can speak for most DUI attorneys when I say that is absolutely not true. We want law enforcement to do their jobs, and we want the Constitution to be upheld, and we want the truth.
I do not applaud Ponce and Gomez’s actions. All I ask is that they investigate the DUI within the bounds of the law while maintaining the constitutional rights of the person suspected of driving under the influence.