LAPD

A woman who fell out of a moving Los Angeles police car has accused an officer of sexually assaulting her while she was handcuffed in the back seat of the vehicle. (Bob Chamberlin / Los Angeles Times / July 7, 2011)

A woman who fell out of a moving Los Angeles police car has accused an officer of sexually assaulting her while she was handcuffed in the back seat of the vehicle.

The 28-year-old woman detailed the assault in recent sworn testimony as part of a lawsuit against the officer, his partner and the Los Angeles Police Department, according to a transcript reviewed by The Times.

At some point after the officer and his partner took the woman into custody on suspicion of public intoxication on March 17, “he was grabbing my left inner thigh, you know, trying to – I’m assuming opening my legs, touching my chest, grabbing at it,” the woman testified during a deposition.

The woman told an attorney for the city that the officer pulled her shirt down around her waist. The Times generally does not name alleged victims of sexual assault.

The woman acknowledged that her recollection was not complete, saying she could not recall which of the two officers allegedly assaulted her.

The allegations add more questions to an already odd and troubling encounter, in which the officers’ account of the fall has come under suspicion.

The Times first reported on the incident last year.

The woman said she and two friends were waiting on 6th Street for a sober friend to pick them up when LAPD officers pulled up to check on them.

According to the woman’s testimony, the officers quickly departed after asking her whether she knew the two men and if they were bothering her. A short time later, the woman recalled, the officers returned as she drunkenly ran down the sidewalk and one of her friends grabbed her from behind in a bear hug.

Shouting expletives, one of the officers ordered the friend to let go of the woman and then handcuffed her, she testified. The woman said she heard the officers tell her friend they were taking her into custody because she was intoxicated, but refused to say where they were taking her.

After driving for some time, the woman testified, the officers pulled over. One of them climbed into the back seat, she said, and began “assaulting me, molesting me.”

“I was struggling trying to get him off me. I said, ‘What are you doing? You are a police officer.’ I said, ‘Stop,’” the woman testified.

The second officer began driving again while the assault continued, the woman recalled.

A few minutes after three in the morning, a security camera on a building captured the patrol vehicle traveling east along Olympic Boulevard as it approached Grand Avenue.

Moments after the patrol car passed out of view, the surveillance camera panned and zoomed in on the woman laying motionless in the street. Only an undergarment covered her chest.

In a report on the incident reviewed by The Times, paramedics who treated the woman wrote that, according to the officers, the woman had fallen out as the patrol car accelerated to about 10 mph after coming to a stop at a traffic light.

Video footage, which was provided to The Times by the woman's attorney, seems to contradict the account the officers gave paramedics.

The fall shattered the woman’s jaw and left her with severe headaches and pain, she said. Several surgeries have been required to repair her jaw and do extensive dental and cosmetic work.

Medical records show the LAPD’s Internal Affairs Division was alerted to the woman’s allegations. Cmdr. Andy Smith, a spokesman for the LAPD, said an internal investigation was opened immediately. That investigation, he said, remains open because the woman’s attorney has not allowed investigators to interview her.

Department officials had not yet reviewed the woman’s deposition, Smith said. Citing confidentiality laws, Smith refused to discuss the investigation. The two officers, he said, remain in the field.

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Twitter: @joelrubin

joel.rubin@latimes.com