“We don’t recognize no f**king complaints!”

August 3, 2012 Criminal Defense

The new motto from the same people who brought us Rodney King. If you dare complain about our misconduct you will reap the whirlwind.

Tatiana Lopez was arrested by LAPD deputy Francisco Enriquez in a 2009 traffic stop and charged with drug offenses. She spent two days in jail before bailing out. Typical inner city story until the truth began seeping out and exposed the worst kind of police corruption.

At first the prosecutors refused to file charges citing lack of evidence. Lopez and her lawyer then meet with the police brass to make a complaint about her false arrest. She adamantly maintained her innocence throughout her ordeal.

After that meeting Enriquez wrote a new police report claiming that he drove the suspect to the police station and then discovered several bags of methamphetamine in the patrol car where she had been sitting. He also claimed he searched her home and found additional meth with the same distinctive insignia on them as the bags found in the police car. Based on the new evidence the prosecutors filed charges.

But the police didn’t stop there. They also threatened to have her son taken from her. If you dare complain about them they don’t hesitate to play dirty.

There it would have remained except for the aggressive defense by Lopez’s lawyer which unwound all the lies. He obtained the police radio communications between these cops and the dispatcher and proved that Lopez had been transported in another cop’s car not Enriquez’s. This convincingly proved the drugs had been planted in a blatant retaliation for making the internal affairs complaint.

This week prosecutors filed perjury charges against Enriquez and are looking to charge other cops involved with him that night.

I enjoyed this story because we used a similar tactic several years ago. A woman was charged with slapping a cop at the old Miami Arena during a Rod Stewart concert. The cop’s sergeant claimed he witnessed the assault. They turned it into a real serious offense seeking years in jail. We subpoenaed the dispatch tapes and proved the sergeant was on the other side of the arena on his radio when he falsely claimed he was witnessing the assault. The State Attorney dismissed the charges.

The same happened in the Luis Alvarez case as I wrote in the first chapter of my book Black’s Law. The detective claimed he was interrogating Alvarez and got a damning admission, but we proved with the communication tapes that at the same exact time he was on the radio positioning his troops to quell the riot.

The dispatch logs and communications tapes contain a wealth of information and can expose police cover-ups. The same applies on the federal side. We love to subpoena the Bureau of Prisons for the phone tapes of the cooperating witnesses. These tapes can provide shocking statements to use in cross-examination. The search for favorable evidence should never end. Even during the trial aggressively subpoena materials looking for gems that undermine the prosecution’s case.

Last week I met with a former White House official and we discussed our amazement how Americans are so trustful of authority. We believe what our government tells us, unlike so many countries in the world where they are highly skeptical of authority. In the US, if the FBI shows up at our door we invite them in for coffee. In the rest of the world when the state police knock on their door they hide their women and children.

Ms. Lopez has learned a hard lesson: “I lost a lot of trust in the people who are supposed to protect us.”