| 09-21-2012, 01:43 PM||Joined Aug 2008 - away - #1|
Pasadena officer named in perjury complaint - Pasadena Star-News
PASADENA - A complaint alleging that Pasadena Police Officer Kevin Okamoto perjured himself during the investigation and prosecution of Edward Damas has been filed with the Pasadena Police Department.
The complaint, received Monday, is the latest of several written complaints and signed declarations alleging gross misconduct by Pasadena officers.
Okamoto is named in many of those complaints, which accuse Pasadena police officers of kidnapping, beating and threatening to k!ll witnesses.
Damas' attorney Michael Kraut has called for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office to bring criminal charges against Okamoto.
"The D.A.'s Office needs to step up, dismiss the charges against Damas and prosecute the real felon in this case - Kevin Okamoto," Kraut said.
In July, the allegations against the department were forwarded to the D.A.'s Justice System Integrity Division and remain under review, according to officials.
Pasadena Deputy Police Chief Darryl Qualls said in an email that the department was in the process of "reading and reviewing" the complaint and would forward it to the L.A. County Sheriff's Department for independent review and take "appropriate action" based on the results.
The sheriff's Internal Affairs Bureau has been under contract with Pasadena to investigate allegations of police misconduct since April, officials said.
The complaint received Monday stems from Okamoto's alleged misconduct during the Damas investigation and subsequent criminal trial. Damas was alleged to have hit a patron during a 2009 bar brawl at Wockano Restaurant and Bar. After a hung jury in his first trial Damas is to be retried.
According to the declaration signed by Alexander Andres, who worked at Wockano, Okamoto asked him in December 2009 to enter Damas' jail cell while wearing a recording device and "solicit" information from the suspect. Okamoto has denied the claim.
However, Andres signed a declaration under penalty of perjury stating that Okamoto told him to "act like I didn't know what was going (on) and to ask Mr. Damas questions about what happened in the bar."
In a written report, Okamoto wrote that he instructed Andres to "possibly solicit incriminating statements" from Damas.
The tape of the conversation between Andres and Damas is missing, Kraut said.
In court Okamoto testified he handed over all the evidence in the Wockano brawl investigation. In May, the court declared that the officer failed to turn over a substantial amount of evidence.
Okamoto also failed to turn over a transcript of an interview with a witness, according to court documents.
Kraut said the withheld evidence would have vindicated Damas.
In his declaration, Andres said he felt pressured by Okamoto to provide a statement to harm Damas' case and that Okamoto fed him facts.
"It is now crystal clear that Officer Okamoto committed blatant perjury to material issues in this trial," Kraut said. "He hid evidence; other evidence disappeared."
The police misconduct complaints by Kraut and other attorneys came soon after March 24 slaying of unarmed teenager Kendrec McDade.
His shooting death is being investigated by the Los Angeles County Office of Independent Review, the Sheriff's Officer Involved Shooting Team, the PPD Internal Affairs Bureau and the FBI.
In other complaints, Ryan Tellez signed a declaration in July accusing Okamoto of instructing him on which testimony to provide in the Damas case; Jeremi Carr accused Okamoto and Detective William Broghamer of kidnapping him in 2007. Carr said the officers took him to Pasadena Police Headquarters where Broghamer allegedly beat Carr when he refused to make false incriminating statements in a murder case.
David Miranda, a retired Pasadena crime scene investigator, said Okamoto once asked him to omit information to secure a conviction.
Jamaul Harvey, who has filed a misconduct complaint against the Pasadena police, said Detective Keith Gomez threatened to k!ll him during questioning in 2007.
In 2008 Harvey was acquitted of the 2006 murder of Tommie Evans in Pasadena. A juror submitted a signed declaration that she believed Gomez lied on the stand to ensure a conviction.
All the complaints by Harvey, Tellez, Carr and Miranda have been forwarded to the Sheriff's Internal Affairs Bureau.
Kraut and Harvey's attorney Pamela Dansby De Catur said the Pasadena police and county prosecutors must review all of Okamoto's cases from his decade on the force.
"When allegations like this are coming forth again and again every investigation they have done in the past come into question," Dansby De Catur said.
Qualls' statement said the department takes the complaints seriously and works hard "to maintain the trust that the community has placed with the Pasadena Police Department."