2 LAPD Officers Covered up DUI Crash, Drove Drunken Driver Home: DA

Two LAPD officers have been charged with felonies after allegedly covering up an alleged drunken driving crash they responded to in Boyle Heights in 2014.

The charges against Rene Marcial Ponce, 39, and Irene Gomez, 38, were announced Tuesday by the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office.

They pleaded not guilty on Sept. 7 to one felony count of filing a false report and a felony count of conspiracy to commit an act injurious to the public.

The pair were patrolling in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Hollenbeck area when they responded a traffic collision in the 3000 block of East Side Boulevard early in the morning of Oct. 26, 2014.

An alleged drunken driver had struck two parked vehicles, according to the DA’s office.

The criminal complaint alleges the officers did not conduct a sobriety test on the driver, as required under LAPD policy. Instead they put the driver, identified only as “Garcia,” in their patrol vehicle and took him to his apartment complex, telling him to go to sleep, according to the complaint.

Then they wrote a report on the crash, allegedly lying by indicating Garcia was not being present at the scene, according to the complaint.

A spokeswoman for the DA’s office said there was no personal or professional relationship between the driver and the officers. It was not clear how the crime was uncovered.

At the time of the crash, Ponce had been with the department for 13 years while his alleged co-conspirator, Gomez, had been an LAPD officer for three years, the DA’s office said.

The LAPD’s Internal Affairs Division is still investigating.

A defense attorney for Gomez told the Los Angeles Times that the defendant is well respected by her peers. The lawyer questioned why it took nearly two years to bring charges.

The officers are due back in court in downtown L.A. on Oct. 11.