L.A. County sheriff’s deputy found not guilty of perjury in ‘sloppy’ 2019 gun case

VIDEO | 02:04
A deputy testified falsely. Was he lying or just ‘sloppy’?

In his testimony against two men facing weapons charges, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Deputy Kevin Honea was clear: While searching a car the men were in, he found a gun in a box in the front seat area. Video footage of the incident showed a different story unfold.


A Los Angeles County jury found a sheriff’s deputy not guilty of perjury this week, more than two years after prosecutors charged him with lying in court.

In 2019, Deputy Kevin Honea testified that he’d personally recovered a stolen gun from the front seat of a car — but prosecutors said video showed that another deputy found the weapon inside a bag in the trunk.

At the time, Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department officials defended Honea, saying he was “sloppy” but did not lie. On Friday afternoon, following more than a week of trial, a jury agreed.


Steven Alvarado, Honea’s trial attorney, called the verdict a “fantastic” outcome.

“I’m ecstatic for Deputy Honea and his family,” Alvarado told The Times on Friday. “The jury got this one right and gave a good cop his life back.”

In a statement Friday, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office framed it as a difficult case and said it would “continue to prioritize integrity and accountability” in law enforcement.

“We recognize the challenges inherent in prosecuting cases of this nature,” the statement said. “Perjury poses a significant threat to the foundation of justice and public confidence in law enforcement, making these cases particularly complex.”

Honea was on patrol in Gardena in May 2019 when he spotted an Audi sedan leaving a Motel 6 parking lot, according to court records. He ran the license plate and found that it was linked to a robbery. Three men were arrested.

At a court hearing a month later, transcripts show, Honea described opening a box in the front seat and finding several items, including a gun.

“It was like where your foot would be if you were sitting in the front passenger seat,” he said, when questioned by the prosecutor.


During cross-examination, Honea again confirmed he’d found the gun in the front passenger seat. When a deputy public defender asked whether he’d “personally” recovered the weapon, he said he had.

After an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy testified falsely, an investigation cleared him of lying. His case highlights a trend under Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Jan. 13, 2021

But motel surveillance footage — obtained by the defense team for one of the men arrested — showed Honea and other deputies looking inside the box in the front passenger’s seat several times and not finding a gun.

Eventually, another deputy at the scene pulled a small box out of a bag that had been in the trunk of the car. Honea, who was on the phone at the time, walked back toward the group as another deputy opened the box. The group celebrated, patting each other on the shoulders.

By January 2021, Honea’s inaccurate testimony had forced prosecutors to drop the criminal case against the men, as The Times previously reported. Under the previous administration, the Sheriff’s Department chose not to criminally investigate Honea, instead giving him a 10-day suspension and chalking his misstatements up to sloppiness. On Friday, the department said he is currently relieved of duty, but would not say why, citing privacy laws.

Two years after the Gardena arrests, prosecutors charged Honea with perjury.

“Lying under oath damages the credibility of law enforcement and creates doubt and mistrust by the public,” Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in a statement at the time.


While Gascón has taken a more aggressive stance on prosecuting police officers than his predecessors, his results in court have been mixed.

A perjury case filed against two Long Beach police officers also ended in an acquittal last year and another perjury case involving the Sheriff’s Department was thrown out by a judge at a 2022 preliminary hearing, where prosecutors face a much lower burden of proof than they do at trial. The charges against the deputies were later reinstated following an appeal by the district attorney’s office, records show.

During Gascón‘s tenure, the D.A.’s office also lost a manslaughter case against Deputy Luke Liu, though those charges were filed by his predecessor. In a recent victory for the office earlier this year, ex-deputy Andrew Lyons was sentenced to 30 days after pleading no contest in the 2019 killing of Ryan Twyman.