A clerk handed the judge a thick stack of folders that contained the felony cases of nine men, convicted of different crimes but having one thing in common: Their guilt rested on the word of three Los Angeles police officers now accused of falsifying records that mislabeled people as gang members.
At the request of Head Deputy Dist. Atty. Jonlyn Callahan, L.A. County Superior Court Judge Sergio C. Tapia II dismissed the nine cases and vacated the defendants’ convictions Friday morning, saying he was doing so “in the interests of justice.” The judge on Friday dismissed another six misdemeanor cases brought by the L.A. City Attorney’s office.
Callahan told the court that two LAPD officers, Braxton Shaw and Michael Coblentz, worked eight of the nine dismissed felony cases. A third, officer Raul Uribe, was a witness in the case of Vincent Fierro, who pleaded no contest in 2018 to carrying a concealed firearm and was sentenced to one day in jail and three years of probation.
Shaw, Coblentz, Uribe and three more LAPD officers, all deployed with the department’s Metropolitan Division, have been charged by the district attorney’s office with falsifying field interview cards, an intelligence-gathering tool that the LAPD and other agencies use to identify and monitor suspected gang members. The officers, who have pleaded not guilty, are accused of misrepresenting people they’d stopped as admitted gang members, despite their body-camera footage showing no such admissions or explicit denials of gang affiliations.
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