It's a story that first shocked Los Angeles but has now traveled the country: a Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) officer has been arrested for fondling the breasts of a female corpse. The incident was caught on the officer's body camera. He's now facing one felony count of “sexual contact with remains known to be human.”
Officers Sent to Investigate Overdose
Officer David Rojas and his partner were sent to a Los Angeles home to investigate a report of an overdose on October 20. When Rojas' partner left the room, Rojas turned off his body camera, but the camera has a built-in buffer that keeps it recording for two minutes. That buffer was long enough to capture Rojas lifting the sheet covering the woman's body and fondling her breasts. He later reactivated his body camera, and as LAPD rules dictate, he turned in his body camera at the end of his shift.
A detective who was later reviewing the body camera footage as part of the overdose investigation saw Rojas fondling the woman's body and reported him. Rojas was immediately pulled from field duty and an internal investigation was launched, according to LAPD spokesman Josh Rubenstein.
Investigation Leads to Charges
According to a written statement from LAPD, “Investigators from the Los Angeles Police Department's Internal Affairs Criminal Investigations Division worked diligently to complete their investigation, which was presented to the district attorney's office on Dec. 10." Prosecutors filed a felony charge against Rojas, and he was arrested on December 12, 2019. He posted $20,000 bail and was released that afternoon. No arraignment has been scheduled yet, but if he is convicted, Rojas could be sent to prison for up to three years.
Police Union Steps Away from Accused
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, which represents LAPD officers, says it will not assist Rojas in his defense, saying, “his alleged behavior is abhorrent and an affront to every law enforcement professional working for LAPD.” They have also added that they hope the charge against Rojas will bring some solace to the dead woman's family.
LAPD Body Cameras
LAPD began using body cameras in 2016, saying they were a way to maintain public trust in the agency. Some 7,000 officers use body cameras, and in 2018 the police commission voted to release body camera footage to the public within 45 days of incidents involving use of force, especially police shootings. This video does not fall under the category of use of force and will not be released.
Sigal Law Group
Body cameras have been shown to reduce the number of complaints against police by citizens, but there have been investigations that videos of alleged police misconduct are rarely released and are sometimes even heavily edited. If you have been involved in an incident with police that was filmed by a body camera and you believe the footage was doctored against you, you deserve the experienced team of Sigal Law Group to defend you. Call the Sigal Law Group at 818-325-0570 or fill out our contact form today.