Jury finds 2 deputies not guilty

The pair, who were ac­cused of ly­ing about a 2011 drug bust, are ac­quit­ted of per­jury, con­spir­acy charges.

Los Angeles Times - - LOS ANGELES - By Marisa Ger­ber marisa.ger­ber@la­times.com

A jury Thurs­day ac­quit­ted two Los An­ge­les County sher­iff ’s deputies of per­jury and con­spir­acy charges stem­ming from a 2011 drug bust at a bar in Hunt­ing­ton Park.

Dur­ing the trial, a pros­e­cu­tor told ju­rors that the case against Robert Lind­sey and Charles Ro­driguez was pur­sued af­ter sur­veil­lance video from Du­rango Bar con­tra­dicted de­tails in Lind­sey’s ar­rest re­port.

Ju­rors de­lib­er­ated for less than a day be­fore find­ing Lind­sey, 33, not guilty of fil­ing a false po­lice re­port and Ro­driguez, 40, not guilty of be­ing an ac­ces­sory af­ter the fact. Both deputies were also found not guilty of con­spir­acy in con­nec­tion with the June 3, 2011, drug bust.

“Right now I am on cloud nine,” Ro­driguez said af­ter the ver­dict.

Although it’s frus­trat­ing to know he’ll never get back the years he lost — both of­fi­cers were re­lieved of duty with­out pay in April 2013 — Ro­driguez said he felt vin­di­cated and was ea­ger to clear his name.

“This just wasn’t right,” he said.

Ro­driguez’s at­tor­ney, James E. Blatt, crit­i­cized the Los An­ge­les County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice for fil­ing the case, call­ing the move “very de­struc­tive to the crim­i­nal jus­tice sys­tem.”

Ri­cardo San­ti­ago, a spokesman for the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice, de­clined to com­ment on the ac­quit­tal.

For Lind­sey, the last few years were “a ter­ri­ble ex­pe­ri­ence,” he said, adding that he was grate­ful that the trial gave him a chance to speak pub­licly about the case.

“This was the first time any­one had heard any kind of truth,” he said.

Af­ter the ver­dict was read, Lind­sey said, all the ju­rors and al­ter­nate ju­rors ap­proached him and Ro­driguez to thank them for their ser­vice.

“It was ex­tremely hum­bling,” he said. “We were blessed to have a jury that lis­tened to the facts.”

Brian Moriguchi, pres­i­dent of the L.A. County Pro­fes­sional Peace Of­fi­cers Assn., which rep­re­sents Sher­iff ’s Depart­ment su­per­vi­sors, praised the jury’s de­ci­sion and said he felt bad for Ro­driguez and Lind­sey, who “had their lives turned over.”

“We are glad to see that the jury was not po­lit­i­cal and they based their de­ci­sion on the facts be­fore them,” Moriguchi said.

The charges were filed af­ter Lind­sey wrote an ar­rest re­port in which he said an in­for­mant had told the deputies that a man named “Abra­ham” sold co­caine in the park­ing lot of Du­rango Bar.

The re­port said that the deputies saw a man match­ing the de­scrip­tion of “Abra­ham” stand­ing near a Lexus SUV and that Lind­sey walked up to him, looked in­side the ve­hi­cle and saw a plas­tic bag of “white pow­der co­caine in the air vent un­der the car stereo.” Lind­sey wrote that he took the man into cus­tody on sus­pi­cion of nar­cotics pos­ses­sion and searched the car.

Dur­ing the trial, Deputy Dist. Atty. Gretchen Ford ar­gued that Lind­sey lied in the ar­rest re­port to jus­tify his search of the ve­hi­cle.

Sher­iff ’s spokes­woman Ni­cole Nishida said that once the crim­i­nal case has con­cluded, the depart­ment will “pro­ceed with the in­ter­nal ad­min­is­tra­tive in­ves­ti­ga­tion to look into any po­ten­tial pol­icy vi­o­la­tions.”

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