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Judge dismisses case against L.A. County sheriff’s deputy accused of filing false police report

Video from the night of Aug. 23, 2012, showing Christopher Gray being arrested by Los Angeles Sheriff’s deputies. Deputy Gregory Rodriguez, who alleged that Gray tried to free two suspects from a patrol car, was later charged with filing a false pol

A judge has dismissed a perjury case this week against a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy after a jury deadlocked over whether the deputy filed a false police report.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge C.H. Rehm dismissed the case Wednesday against Gregory Rodriguez, who was charged last year with one count each of perjury and submitting the untrue police report.

Prosecutors alleged that Rodriguez, 36, lied when he said a bystander to an Aug. 23, 2012 traffic stop, Christopher Gray, attempted to free two people in custody. The deputy claimed Gray reached for the door handle of the sheriff’s patrol vehicle to release the suspects.

On Aug. 8, after two days of deliberation, eight of the 12 jurors found Rodriguez not guilty. In a downtown courtroom on Wednesday, prosecutors said they would not seek a retrial.

“It was the right decision,” defense attorney Vicki I. Podberesky said. “I never thought that there was sufficient evidence in this case to prove the allegations that the district attorney brought. At the end of the day, I think the majority of the jurors felt the same way.”

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During a weeklong trial that began July 29, prosecutors relied on witness testimony as well as videos, which showed Gray standing near sheriff’s deputies with his arms folded.

In the footage, a deputy asks Gray to move from the street onto the sidewalk in the 1300 block of South Marrianna Avenue, at the border of Commerce and East Los Angeles.

When Gray didn’t comply, the deputy handcuffed him before pressing him onto a patrol car, according to videos obtained by The Times.

In a police report filed the next day, Rodriguez and his partner gave a statement that appeared to contradict the video.

“I saw [Gray] reach for the rear door handle of the patrol vehicle,” the deputies wrote in a supplemental report, which was signed by a supervisor.

Podberesky said the video of the arrest was merely a snippet of what occurred.

Sheriff’s dispatch records showed that about 20 to 25 minutes of the incident — a traffic stop that resulted in the arrest of two other men — were not recorded on video, the lawyer said.

“There were just some looming questions about what really happened in the 20 minutes that wasn’t captured on the video played in court,” Podberesky said. “The most critical time period was never shown.”

Rodriguez has been relieved of duty since April 2014, and his pay was suspended in 2015. As of Wednesday, he remained an employee of the Sheriff’s Department, Podberesky said.

Prosecutors declined to file charges against Rodriguez’s partner, citing insufficient evidence, according to district attorney’s office spokesman Ricardo Santiago.

Also citing insufficient evidence, prosecutors declined to charge Mucio Ramirez and Renato Jiminez, the two people arrested in the traffic stop on suspicion of marijuana possession, Santiago said.

Gray spent about five days in jail after deputies booked him on suspicion of attempted lynching for trying to free someone from the custody of a law enforcement officer, according to his attorney, Olu K. Orange. Criminal charges against him were later dismissed.

Gray filed a federal civil rights lawsuit against the Sheriff’s Department and the county in October 2013. The case was settled for $549,000, according to county records.

matt.hamilton@latimes.com

Twitter: @MattHjourno.

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