Open DUI cases involving accused SDPD officer could be dismissed - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Open DUI cases involving accused SDPD officer could be dismissed

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By David Gotfredson

SAN DIEGO, Calif. (CBS 8) -- We are learning more about the initial sexual misconduct complaint against a San Diego police officer accused of inappropriately touching female drivers he pulled over for traffic violations.

An arrest in Mission Valley one year ago was the first sign of trouble for Officer Anthony Arevalos, an 18-year veteran of the force who specialized in DUI patrols.

On Feb. 20, 2010, Arevalos responded to a call at 8700 Rio San Diego Drive, according court records and a SDPD factual summary of the incident obtained by News 8 through a California Public Records Act request.

The summary said, "SDPD officers responded to a radio call of a possible intoxicated driver." A police spokesperson said the incident involved a female driver who was in a traffic accident.

According to the summary, "a female driver was arrested by officer Anthony Arevalos for driving under the influence of alcohol and was transported to Las Colinas women's detention facility. The female was rejected at Las Colinas for medical reasons."

The nature of the 28-year-old woman's medical condition was not disclosed.

"The female was transported to UCSD Medical Center for medical attention. She was released at UCSD and a notify warrant was requested for subsequent prosecution of the driving under the influence allegation," the incident summary continued.

During the DUI arrest and investigation, the woman "made an allegation of sexual assault against officer Arevalos," the summary said.

Court records confirm the office of the San Diego County District Attorney investigated the complaint as a sexual penetration under color of authority. No charges were filed because of a lack of evidence to prove the alleged crime beyond a reasonable doubt.

Records show the case against Officer Arevalos was rejected by the DA's office in April 2010.

Prosecutors filed a misdemeanor DUI complaint against the woman in Aug. 2010.

The woman pleaded guilty in November 2010 to driving with a blood alcohol level of .19, more than two times the legal limit. She was ordered to pay a $2,000 fine and complete five years of summary probation, five days of public service work, and a first-time DUI offender program, court records show.

News 8 is not identifying the woman because she is an alleged victim of sexual assault.

Since the incident in Mission Valley, at least three other women have made similar complaints, all involving drunk driving stops by Officer Arevalos in or near the Gaslamp Quarter downtown.

On Dec. 29, 2010, a 20-year-old woman said Officer Arevalos tried to solicit a sex act from her.

On Feb. 20, 2011, a 25-year-old woman said she was handcuffed when Arevalos repeatedly fondled her shoulders, while pulling up the straps on her dress.

On March 8, 2011, a 32-year-old woman reported Arevalos sexually battered her during a DUI stop. She did not receive a citation.

Arevalos was arrested March 11 and booked into jail on sexual battery, false imprisonment, and assault under color of authority charges as a result of the March 8 incident. He is set to be arraigned Monday afternoon.

Since Officer Arevalos is facing criminal charges, legal experts said there is a chance the open DUI cases involving the officer could be tossed out.

"I think there's a very good possibility that all of them will be dismissed," said criminal defense and civil rights attorney Mary Frances Prevost.

"When you have these types of allegations that go directly to the credibility of the officer, they go directly to the credibility of each and every stop that he performed; each and every prosecution," Prevost said.

Through a public records request, News 8 obtained a list of 18 open, misdemeanor DUI cases filed with the San Diego City Attorney's office where Arevalos was the arresting officer.

The list included 8 men and 10 women pulled over by Arevalos in recent months and charged with drunken driving.

More cases involving Officer Arevalos from February and early March of this year are still being reviewed by the City Attorney's office and have not been filed.

"I suspect they're going to try to plead as many of them out as possible," attorney Prevost said.

If the cases do go to trial, Prevost said, prosecutors would be reluctant to put Arevalos on the witness stand.

"That's the way the cookie crumbles when you got a bad cop," Prevost said. "Unfortunately, that's the way it crumbles. And in most of these cases they're going to have to be dismissed, or (the defendants) are going to be given very, very good pleas."

As it stands now, Officer Arevalos is facing charges in just one of the four incidents which have been made public. An SDPD captain said the department has received information from "multiple" other drivers alleging misconduct.

Arevalos is free on bail and declined comment when contacted earlier this week at his home in Chula Vista.

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