A Los Angeles police officer was sentenced Wednesday to community labor and three years' probation for falsely testifying about the details of a 2008 drug arrest.
Officer Manuel Bernardo Ortiz, who was convicted of one count each of perjury and conspiracy, must perform 900 hours of graffiti removal or work for the California Department of Transportation.
Ortiz, 40, was one of three LAPD officers convicted in connection with the arrest of Guillermo Alarcon Jr. Former officers Evan Samuel and Richard Amio were convicted of multiple counts of perjury for testifying falsely during different court proceedings. Samuel also wrote a police report that contained inaccuracies.
Prosecutors argued that all three officers should serve time in state prison, but the men instead were sentenced to perform community labor.
Ortiz was relieved of duty without pay during the criminal proceedings, according to a police source with knowledge of the case who requested anonymity because officer discipline matters are confidential. The department will now press ahead with efforts to have Ortiz fired if he does not resign first.
Amio resigned from the LAPD in February, the source said. Samuel, who had left the LAPD for the Chino Police Department in 2008, was fired from that agency following his conviction.
Ortiz's sentence comes five years after the criminal trial in which he, Samuel and Amio committed perjury. Charges against Alarcon were abruptly dropped when Alarcon's defense attorney presented in court a video that contradicted all three officers' testimony.
Ortiz's fellow officers testified that they had seen Alarcon discard a small box as they chased him into his Hollywood apartment. The officers said Samuel had quickly located the box and found it stuffed with crack and powder cocaine.
But the video showed that it took multiple officers about 20 minutes of searching before the container was found. The video also featured officers talking about Ortiz finding the box, which directly contradicted his testimony. Ortiz had said he did not participate in the search.Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times