Criminal case dismissed against two LAPD officers
LOS ANGELES - Criminal charges were dismissed Monday against two of three Los Angeles police officers accused of falsifying records that claimed people they had stopped were gang members or gang associates, after a judge earlier this year dismissed similar charges against three other officers.
Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Kerry L. White dismissed the case against Michael Coblentz, 44, and Nicolas Martinez, 38, at the prosecution's request after Deputy District Attorney Kaveh Faturechi cited "additional evidence" received during a hearing in which another judge ruled Feb. 8 that there was insufficient evidence to require Los Angeles Police Department Officers Rene Braga, 41, Raul Uribe, 36, and Julio Garcia, 38, to stand trial.
"It's the right decision," Martinez's attorney, Joseph Weimortz, said after the hearing. "Nicolas Martinez is an officer who earned 88 commendations over eight years."
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The defense lawyer said his client -- who is on paid administrative leave -- passed a polygraph test in which he was asked about the field information cards. Weimortz said he did not believe that the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office would be refiling the case against Martinez.
Coblentz's current status with the LAPD was not immediately available, nor was the status of another officer, Braxton Shaw, 39, whose criminal case is still pending.
A date is scheduled to be set June 2 for a hearing to determine whether there is enough evidence to allow the case against Shaw to proceed to trial.
Coblentz, Martinez and Shaw were charged in July 2020 with conspiracy to obstruct justice, filing a false police report and preparing false documentary evidence.
Shortly after the case against Coblentz, Martinez and Shaw was filed, the LAPD said the charges stemmed from a "misconduct investigation conducted by the Los Angeles Police Department's Internal Affairs Group and monitored by the Office of the Inspector General."
Braga, Uribe and Garcia were subsequently charged in October 2020.
All six had been assigned to the Metropolitan Division, according to the District Attorney's Office, which alleged that some of the false information on the cards was used to wrongfully enter the names of people into a state gang database.
The LAPD subsequently placed a moratorium on the use of the CalGang system.
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