LOS ANGELES (CBS/AP) — The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is facing a civil-rights lawsuit in connection with the death of a 23-year-old father, naming two former deputies facing charges of planting evidence in a separate case.
Attorneys representing the family of Arturo Cabrales called for an investigation into his March 2012 death on Tuesday, as former deputies Anthony Paez and Julio Martinez faced a judge in a criminal case.
KCAL9’s Randy Paige reports Paez told investigators he shot and killed Cabrales after he saw Cabrales point a gun at him.
No handgun was found near Cabrales’ body but a gun was found on the other side of the fence on a neighbor’s property.
According to the responding officer, Julio Martinez, Cabrales “threw his handgun over the chain-link fence, and it landed on the property next door.”
Attorneys representing the Cabrales family say the deputies are lying and Cabrales never had a gun.
“How could that happen in America? Where you can enter someone’s property without a warrant and kill them in their own house?” plaintiff attorney Humberto Guizar asked.
Paez and Martinez were in court Tuesday facing criminal charges in a separate case in which they are accused of planting guns at a medical marijuana dispensary, resulting in the arrest of a man who was sentenced to six months in jail, according to authorities.
The former deputies said they were on patrol on August 24, 2011, when they saw a drug deal being made and followed a man into a medical marijuana dispensary, prosecutors said.
Martinez said he saw the man throw away a gun in an office.
The deputies said they found a gun near a trash bin and another on a desk next to some Ecstasy pills.
But prosecutors contend that the deputies planted the weapons, that Martinez shut off electricity to the room and that Paez crawled under the desk to disable the dispensary’s video surveillance system.
The deputies arrested Antonio Rhodes for possession of an unregistered firearm and Johnny Yang for possession of a controlled substance while armed with a firearm.
Martinez, a 15-year veteran, and seven-year veteran Paez were subsequently dismissed from the Sheriff’s Department last year.
Rhodes had his case dismissed in 2012. But Yang pleaded no contest to the charge before the alleged evidence-planting was discovered and was sentenced to 180 days in jail, county district attorney’s spokeswoman Jane Robison said in April.
The plaintiffs’ attorney in the Cabrales case, Guizar, pointed out what he believes is a trend in the former deputies’ behavior.
“They are being charged with filing false police reports, number one. And also with planting a gun,” Guizar said. “And in this case we believe that a gun was planted and we believe that false reports were filed.”
The Sheriff’s Department declined to comment on the case, citing its involvement in the civil lawsuit.
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