Prosecutors reviewing case in which L.A. man alleges LAPD officers planted gun
Los Angeles County prosecutors are reviewing a case in which two city police officers allegedly lied about a traffic stop and planted a gun into evidence to justify a man’s arrest in 2018.
The man, Dahmeer Williams, alleged in a complaint to the LAPD and in a lawsuit filed this week that he was falsely arrested and forced to spend more than a month behind bars before video footage from the scene cast doubt on the officers’ version of events.
The case sparked an internal affairs investigation, police said, and has since been referred to prosecutors in the Justice System Integrity Division in Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey’s office, her office confirmed.
“The case has been submitted to JSID and is under review,” said Greg Risling, a spokesman for Lacey. He declined to comment further.
Prosecutors in JSID handle allegations of criminal conduct by law enforcement personnel in the county.
The two officers, Joshua Camacho and Jorge Gutierrez, could not be reached for comment. An attorney for Gutierrez did not respond to a request for comment.
Both officers remain on the force. Camacho is assigned to the 77th Division and Gutierrez to the Southwest Division, said Josh Rubenstein, an LAPD spokesman. Rubenstein acknowledged the internal affairs investigation but said he could not comment on the case due to the pending litigation.
Williams is suing the city for unspecified damages, arguing the officers showed “malicious, oppressive, or reckless disregard” for his rights by falsely arresting him and that their supervisor was aware of the contradicting video evidence but never intervened.
“This was really wrong,” said Wesley Ouchi, Williams’ attorney.
Williams claims the city is liable for damages in part because it has allowed LAPD officers to maintain “longstanding practices” of fabricating evidence — an apparent nod to other cases in which LAPD officers have been accused, and in some instances charged, with making allegations against defendants based on false or contrived evidence.
According to Williams’ lawsuit, Camacho and Gutierrez were patrolling in the city’s West Adams neighborhood in the early hours of Aug. 12, 2018, when they said they witnessed a white Porsche Cayenne run a red light, then accelerate and pull into an alleyway.
The officers alleged they saw the driver and that he tossed a gun from the vehicle as he drove out of the area, the lawsuit states.
The officers then traced the vehicle’s license plate back to Williams’ father, who said he sometimes lends the vehicle to his son’s friend because his son lacks a driver’s license, the lawsuit states. The officers then arrested Williams, who was on parole at the time for another gun-related offense, and forwarded the police report to corrections officials — triggering a parole violation and a recommendation that Williams serve another six months in prison, according to the lawsuit.
Williams claims that he was not in the car; that the officers could not have seen who was in the car because of the heavy tint on the windows; and that video from the officers’ vehicle camera shows that no gun was thrown out of the vehicle as the officers claimed.
According to an LAPD supervisor’s report on the incident, which The Times reviewed, Gutierrez had referred to a black object in the video as the gun, but the video did not show a gun being tossed out of the car.
“I did not observe the driver or any occupants throw a firearm out of the vehicle,” the supervisor wrote. “The angle(s) of the video footage has no indication that Suspect threw a firearm out of a Porsche Cayenne as he drove past Officers after the Officers attempted to conduct their traffic stop.”
The supervisor also noted that the black object that was meant to be the gun was not on the side of the alley where the Porsche’s driver was, but on the passenger side of the vehicle.
According to the lawsuit, Williams was ultimately released from custody after several hearings on the revocation of his probation. His public defender in that case did not respond to a request for comment, and Ouchi did not make Williams available for an interview.
The lawsuit says that internal affairs detectives told Williams’ family that they were going to recommend criminal charges against the two officers to Lacey’s office, and if prosecutors failed to take action that LAPD Chief Michel Moore would ensure the officers were disciplined.
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