Recently the Los Angeles Times ran an article about several Los Angeles County Sheriffs’ deputies who had their testimony rejected by a jury. The case involved the deputies testifying that a defendant possessed a concealed firearm.
One deputy in particular testified that he saw the defendant in a side yard run and toss the pistol onto the roof of a detached garage. the trouble is, a video surfaced that was shot by a witness to the event. The video didn’t show the defendant run or toss the gun. It completely contradicted the sworn testimony of the deputy.
The jury returned a not guilty verdict and said that law enforcement fabricated their testimony. In other words, the sheriff deputies lied under oath. The jurors wondered why the District Attorney went along with the obviously false story put out by the deputies.
The simple truth is that sometimes law enforcement doesn’t tell the truth. Unfortunately, no one is immune from telling lies. What is unusual is that jurors would be so outraged by the lies that they would challenge the falsehoods after trial. A not guilty verdict is one thing, jurors coming forward and demanding an investigation is quite another.
The law says the burden of proof is on the prosecution. Those of us practicing criminal defense know that in reality the defendant has the burden of proof to prove his innocence. Unless you have a video showing the police officer is lying almost all jurors will want to believe the police. Who wants to think police lie? No one wants to believe that. Why? Because if you can’t trust the police, society breaks down and everyone is vulnerable to abuse. Therefore, once a dishonest cop is found out he must be removed. He can’t be trusted to uphold the law. He thinks he is the law.
By the way, the sheriff’s deputy who jurors thought lied ….he has since been promoted to detective.