LA County DA’s chief of staff busted for public intoxication

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LA County DA's chief of staff busted for public intoxication

The Los Angeles County district attorney’s chief of staff was busted on suspicion of public intoxication and allegedly threatened to put the arresting officer on a so-called list of bad cops, authorities said.

Joseph Iniguez, 36, was arrested during a Dec. 11 traffic stop in Azusa, police said in a statement Tuesday.

The top aide for Los Angeles County DA George Gascón was booked for allegedly being under the influence of drugs or alcohol after a Telsa driven by his fiancée was stopped for making an illegal U-turn, prosecutors told the Orange County Register.

“At one point he told the officer that pulled them over ‘you f—k up’ and then said he’d put him in the Brady system,” one prosecutor recalled, referring to the so-called Brady list, to which officers who knowingly lie during official duties are added.

Prosecutors must notify defendants as well as attorneys whenever an officer on the list is involved in a criminal case. Once included, it can be a career-ending development for cops deemed dishonest, one prosecutor told the Register.

Iniguez told the Los Angeles Times he and his fiancée were driving home from a wedding and had stopped at a drive-thru restaurant when they were approached by Azusa police.

George Gascón
Iniguez is a top aide for Los Angeles County DA George Gascón (above).
Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/S

Officers suggested Iniguez’s fiancé was driving drunk and ordered her out of the car, he recalled. Iniguez then got out of the car to film the interaction.

“I decided to get out of the car, stand near the car, on the passenger side, and I began to record,” Iniguez said.

Iniguez was later arrested for public intoxication, while his fiancée was briefly detained but not arrested. She was released at the scene, police told the Times.

Iniguez claims cops arrested him in retaliation for filming the traffic stop but didn’t provide the Times with the footage he shot, the newspaper reported Tuesday.

Iniguez has filed a complaint against the arresting officer, the Register reported. The Azusa Police Officers Association, meanwhile, accused the aide of making a “spectacle” out of his arrest and not relaying all the facts.

“The facts of the case will eventually be released, and when this frivolous and retaliatory complaint is complete, I am most certain the officer will be found to have been in complete compliance with the state law, and department policy,” union president CJ Wilkins said. “The officer that arrested Mr. Iniguez did so with full legal authority and without malice.”

A special adviser to Gascón, Alex Bastian, declined to comment on Iniguez’s arrest, characterizing it as a personnel matter, the Register reported. Any proceeding against Iniguez will be forwarded to the California Attorney General’s Office to avoid a potential conflict of interest, Bastian said.

Gascón speaks during a year-end press conference earlier this month.
Iniguez has filed a complaint against the arresting officer. Above, Gascón speaks during a year-end press conference earlier this month.
Carolyn Cole/Los Angeles Times/S

“The district attorney has the utmost confidence in Joseph,” Bastian told the Times. “It’s a personnel matter so we can’t get into the specifics at this time.”

Wilkins said he doesn’t believe Azusa’s police chief, Mike Bertelsen, will objectively investigate the arresting officer, who has had several recognitions from Mothers Against Drunk Driving for reducing alcohol-related crashes.

The chief shot back in a statement Wednesday, saying he fully supports his officers.

“The men and women of our police department do an outstanding job every day serving our community with honor and they have my full support,” Bertelsen said. “We are committed to accountability and transparency and we are fully cooperating with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office and Attorney General’s Office in this matter.”

Union brass have resisted implementation of body-worn cameras as well as investigations into alleged misconduct, Bertelsen said.

“I am disappointed that the union’s leadership is engaging in this type of behavior at a time when they should be working with us to prevent and solve crime, fill vacancies and ensure our policies meet the expectations of our community,” Bertelsen said.

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