Ex-Policeman Pleads Not Guilty in Perjury Case
A former San Diego police officer pleaded not guilty Monday to a felony charge of perjury after he allegedly lied in court about his arrest of a drug suspect.
John Doulette, a police officer for two years until his termination, is charged with lying on the witness stand about his procedures leading to the arrest of a man on suspicion of possessing cocaine.
Because of Doulette’s allegedly false testimony last year, the charges against Paul D. Bogus were dismissed. The state attorney general’s office entered the case in March and filed the perjury charge against Doulette.
Situation ‘Very Rare’
“It’s very rare for an officer to be charged with a case of perjury,” said Janelle B. Davis, supervising deputy attorney general. “It’s not a common crime and it’s not something you expect of a police officer.”
Doulette did not speak during his brief arraignment Monday, but his attorney, Barton C. Sheela, said afterward that the episode is merely an innocent mistake. He said the officer simply did not remember that he had forgotten to follow proper police policies when making the arrest.
“It’s a logical thing,” Sheela said. “I’ve talked to a number of police officers, and they say that’s standard conduct if they’re real busy.”
But Capt. Dick Tonek, a Police Department spokesman, sharply disagreed.
“I’d have to beg to differ with him,” Tonek said. “It’s not a small thing. When you make an arrest or you do anything that has legal consequences to it as a police officer, you do it with the utmost honesty and integrity.
“We don’t just tell little white lies and omit little important things.”
Questions About Search
According to Davis, the incident occurred Feb. 12, 1988, when Doulette and his partner, Officer David A. Hoffman, saw Bogus drop something on the ground in the 200 block of N. 50th Street.
Doulette got out of the car, began to question Bogus, then prepared to cite him for littering. Davis said the officer also searched Bogus and found a couple of rocks of cocaine in his pocket.
Bogus was taken to County Jail, where sheriff’s deputies found more cocaine in his possession, Davis said. He then was charged with two counts of possession of cocaine.
At a March 3, 1988, preliminary hearing, Doulette testified that he radioed his dispatcher and learned there was an outstanding warrant for Bogus’ arrest, which gave him the proper authority to search Bogus in the first place and find the drugs, Davis said.
However, she said, Officer Hoffman testified that no such call was made. A judge subsequently ruled that the arrest was improper, and the charges against Bogus were dismissed.
Sheela, in his version of the case, said Doulette actually found out about the arrest warrant only after taking Bogus to police headquarters. But, on the witness stand, Doulette forgot and assumed that he had received authorization for the search through a routine radio call, Sheela said.
Doulette was later terminated from the police force, and he is now appealing the dismissal to the city’s Civil Service Commission.
At Monday’s court hearing, he was released on his own recognizance. Municipal Judge Frederic Link set a May 23 preliminary hearing.