COMMUNITY COMMENTARY:

I’ve been paying very close attention to what has been going on with city of Glendale regarding my brother’s case ever since a federal jury found that the Glendale Police Department violated his constitutional rights by conducting the arrest without probably cause, as clearly defined in the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution (“Group seeks to review man’s jailing,” March 26).

Furthermore, the jury found that Det. Arthur Frank and his supervisor Lt. Ian Grimes were to be held liable for punitive damages for the purposes of preventing them from acting like they did in my brother’s case (conducting an arrest without obtaining an arrest warrant based on probable cause). Among the damages awarded by the federal jury is for loss of reputation caused by the false murder charge. It seems like the damages just continue.

I have been reading the Glendale News-Press and watching City Council meetings and local TV regarding this matter. I’m just utterly disgusted and baffled as to the approach that the city of Glendale is taking regarding this case. It is clear, though, that the city of Glendale continues to add further salt into my brother’s open wounds.

Particularly, I am appalled by the comments made by Councilmen Dave Weaver and Frank Quintero (“Group seeks to review man’s jailing,” March 26) and by Police Chief Randy Adams. The police chief made his commentary as one of the last actions of his career before announcing his retirement (“The facts in case,” Community Commentary, April 7). Maybe that is a sign that there is hope for the citizens of Glendale that the Glendale Police Department and the city, despite their comments and actions to the contrary, have learned that they cannot make an arrest without probable cause and circumvent the United States Constitution.

It seems that these individuals like to point out as little as possible of what actually happened and give the community the wrong information.

Ever since the jury handed down its decision, city officials maintained their position that they are the ones who acted properly, and no wrong was done. Who would want to live in a town with this kind of utter disregard for the United States Constitution, the judicial process and the finding of a jury by making statements such as Adams’: “Could the verdict have been an emotional response by the jury, wanting to compensate Ovasapyan for spending eight months in jail for a crime he did not commit?”

Justice prevailed for my brother when he was finally released after being held on murder charges with special circumstances. True justice, the way the American people and the citizens of Glendale expect it to be, was served Feb. 25 when the jury found that Frank and Grimes (who failed to supervise a detective whose work he was responsible for) were held liable for punitive damages.

Let the truth be known that the jury members expressed amazement of the selective memory of these two gentlemen whose most common replies were, “I’m not sure,” “I don’t know,” “I can’t recall” or “ah, eh, na . . . ” One can’t help wonder what Adams was doing when Grimes failed to supervise Frank.

Just to be clear: Punitive damages only get awarded when the jury wants to punish the defendants and if the jury thought that the two officers acted with malice. The Glendale Police Department stated that it conducted the arrest after a positive identification by Carmen Shahnazari. It is absolutely and categorically untrue because she made statements that were tape-recorded and played to the jury again and again that my brother “looked like” one of them, but “it was not him.”

Ever since day one, when my brother was arrested, my brother’s attorney, Mark Geragos, and his investigator, Scott Ross, proved to the Glendale Police Department that they had the wrong guy and that he had an alibi. I kept telling the department that I would make sure that my brother’s name was cleared from any wrongdoing and I spared nothing, financially or in any other way, to finance my brother’s defense and get him cleared of the false murder charge.

When Shahnazari was being interviewed by Glendale detectives and was asked if any of the six pictures resembled the assailants, she mentions on tape that my brother “looks like him, but it is not him.” She says this four times in recorded interviews, which were played for the jury again and again. “It was not him.” Still, Frank rushed out to arrest my brother. Grimes never bothered listening to the tape recording, which he admitted under oath in federal court. Why doesn’t Adams mention this as part of the facts? Is stating “looks like him, but it is not him” considered a positive identification for the Glendale Police Department? Is the statement strong enough for a police officer to make an arrest without obtaining an arrest warrant? Apparently not.

In addition, Shahnazari told the Glendale Police Department, “I don’t want to be the reason for causing another mother’s grief for losing her son,” at which point the detectives for Glendale assured Shahnazari that “her identification was going to be just a piece of the puzzle to convict Ovasapyan.” The puzzle never did have any other pieces to it because there wasn’t any DNA, forensic or ballistic evidence linking my brother to the horrific crime committed.

The alibi that Adams says failed to clear my brother was the fact that he was eating lunch with his partner at his job site some five miles away from the crime scene. My brother received a phone call at 12:41 p.m., and that call was answered five miles away from where the murder took place. There was cell site verification that confirmed my brother’s location. During the trial, it was confirmed that my brother was arrested with his cell phone in hand.

Furthermore, Adams forgot to mention another fact, namely that there is surveillance video of my brother shopping at a Home Depot, buying supplies for his work project shortly after the crime was committed. I guess if my brother was a heartless human being, he could have killed someone and later on calmly walked into a Home Depot, bought supplies and calmly left.

I’m sure Adams, Weaver and Quintero didn’t know the fact that the police filed a declaration stating that the neighbor identified one of the cars used as a black Honda Accord and that my brother had no alibi. The problem, as most civilized, intelligent people would agree with, is that the neighbor didn’t make any identification as to the model of the car and that there in fact was an alibi. The recordings in which Shahnazari told the Glendale Police Department four times on tape-recorded statements that “it looks like him, but it’s not him” were not provided to the district attorney. The district attorney was, however, informed that there was a “positive identification” from the mother of the victim.

The United States Constitution does apply to the Glendale Police Department and to the city of Glendale. That is the issue at trial, and the answer provided by the jury was affirmative. One of the jurors said after the verdict to a reporter from the Los Angeles Times that “it was a case filled with ‘I don’t knows,’ ‘I can’t recalls’ and ‘I don’t remembers.’ When someone is charged with murder, you must have probable cause, not possible cause, or the whole system falls apart” (“Glendale man falsely accused of murder awarded $1.3 million,” Los Angeles Times, Feb. 26).

To answer Adams’ question that he posed in his pre-retiring comment regarding the jury having an emotional response: Yes, Adams, but the emotion that the jury was feeling was anger and not sympathy.


 ALFRED OVASAPYAN is a Porter Ranch resident.

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