Judge turns over fired officers’ files to counsel
EL CENTRO — A county Superior Court judge ruled Wednesday in favor of a defense motion that sought access to the personnel files of two fired Calexico police officers that handled evidence during an investigation into the alleged robbery and assault of a Calexico teen in 2014.
Judge Christopher J. Plourd’s ruling allowed for some items found within the former officers’ personnel files to be provided to the prosecution and attorneys of the three defendants who face multiple charges in connection with the alleged incident.
Defense attorney Chris Yturralde had previously filed a Pitchess motion seeking access to the personnel files in anticipation that previous on-duty instances of misconduct or credibility issues by former officers Luis Casillas and Gabriel Rodriguez would come to light.
“There are some items that the judge obviously felt that needed be turned over,” said county Deputy District Attorney Michael Domenzain, following Wednesday’s hearing.
Plourd had previously reviewed the “voluminous” files in his chambers in the absence of counsel as part of the Pitchess motion. A Calexico Police Department official was observed at the hearing on Wednesday toting around two cardboard filing boxes crammed with documents.
Plourd also granted a protective order sought by the city of Calexico barring counsel from disclosing the contents of the items in the personnel files to be reviewed.
The contents of the files to be turned over by the city of Calexico and its Police Department currently remain unknown to both the defense and prosecution, Domenzain said.
Parties are due back in court Oct. 31, allowing time for counsel to review the items, determine their significance and whether they may impact the case.
Both Casillas and Rodriguez were among several officers that were fired by then-chief Michael Bostic, who had publicly stated in November 2014 that the department’s investigation into the alleged robbery and assault had been “botched.”
During the investigation, the fired officers’ had handled a blood-stained seatbelt removed from the vehicle reportedly used during the alleged incident. That piece of evidence remains in custody, although police reportedly were not able to save a copy of the alleged victim’s 911 call.
Casillas’ and Rodriguez’s involvement in the investigation of the alleged incident had recently come to light, as did two supplemental reports that were authored by one of them in connection with the investigation. Neither of them were among the four Calexico officers whose personnel files were originally sought by Yturralde’s Pitchess motion of 2015.
Three defendants are facing multiple charges in connection to the Oct. 17, 2014, alleged kidnapping, beating and robbery of then 17-year-old Calexico resident Mussa Asiad, who was reportedly the ex-boyfriend of defendant Sinai Zepeda.
Zepeda, 21, and Jesus Junior Flores, 23, are both charged with robbery, false imprisonment and making criminal threats. Esteban Santos, 41, faces a charge of kidnapping, assault with a deadly weapon, robbery, false imprisonment, all felonies, and making criminal threats.
Asiad and his family have expressed frustration at the slow pace the case appears to be advancing at, and have been critical of both the Calexico Police Department’s and county District Attorney’s Office’s handling of the case.
“It’s been a waste of our time and our lives,” said Mohamed Asiad, Mussa’s father.