"It's been a long time since I learned that police officers not only have incentive to lie but that many of them do it all the time," her blog post opens. "As explained long ago by a federal appeals court judge, who was recently quoted in a Wall Street Journal article, 'It is an open secret long shared by prosecutors, defense lawyers and judges that perjury is widespread among law enforcement officers.' But I was still taken aback by the blatant lying that I encountered last week." She relates that:
the probable cause affidavit that Officer Gerardo Cantu, APD#6111, swore to and filed in this case indicated that he arrested my client for trespassing on a "heavily forested" property at 8212 Sam Rayburn Drive, which contained trees "painted with a purple band" as well as posted "No Trespassing" signs that were "in plain view" on all sides of the property.I emailed to ask the Austin PD what happened to the officer in question as a result of this incident, and received a reply from Assistant Chief Patti Robinson declaring, "The case that you mention was reviewed by the Austin Police Department's Special Investigations Unit. It was concluded that there was no merit to this allegation and therefore no violation of law by Officer Cantu."
As you can see from the street view provided by Google Maps, this is not a heavily forested property. When I drove out there last week, I discovered that it is, in fact, a multi-unit property in a densely populated urban slum. There's a single tree with no purple paint in sight. The only signs posted anywhere on the property do not say "No Trespassing." Rather, they prohibit drinking and loud music in public areas, roaming around, soliciting, loitering, and so forth.
In fact, no element of Officer Cantu's criminal trespass allegation against my client turned out to be true. He just made the whole thing up. The really surprising thing is that he's willing to commit aggravated perjury when it's so easy to prove.
As for the case against my client, I printed out the whole stack of photos that I took at the scene, which included a shot with the address shown on the side of the building, and showed them to the prosecutor at our scheduled pretrial conference last week. She decided that it was in the "interest of justice" to dismiss. Imagine that.
Really? "No merit"? So it really was a heavily forested area? There really were "No Trespassing" signs despite photos to the contrary? And the purple bands on trees, they were there, too? Honestly? You're just going to piss on my shoes and tell me it's raining? Given so many details in the officer's sworn statement were not just wrong but in fact the precise opposite of the facts on the ground, either Officer Cantu was "lying," as the attorney suggests, or he is one of the most incompetent observers in history who ever put pen to paper to describe what they saw. "No merit," indeed!
I said as much in a followup email, declaring that, "Unless your Special Investigations Unit found he wrote down the address wrong and there's a nearby forested area with purple bands on trees, etc., this looks an awful lot like a case of abuse of authority and testilying that got overlooked/covered up." Chief Art Acevedo replied personally, a bit peeved: "You are taking the word of the Defense Attorney at face value. If you or the attorney feel a crime was committed by the officer, I recommend you file a sworn affidavit and complaint." I responded, "No, I'm reading the probable cause affidavit and looking at the photos, not taking a Defense Attorney's word 'at face value.' Look at the links for yourself." to which he finally replied, "We investigated and consider the matter close." (sic)
I forwarded the exchange to the attorney in question, who responded: "I'm curious what they mean when they say they reviewed the case. They certainly didn't have any contact with me and I doubt the prosecutor who dismissed the case brought it to their attention. I can't say I'm surprised that they blew it off but they could have at least put some effort into coming up with a smarter reason. They really don't care that you can prove that they're lying, do they?"
Bully for Linthrop Pace for doing the legwork to expose the cop's incongruous statements and springing her client from trumped up charges. This story reminds me of Jeff Blackburn's comments recently in the inaugural Grits for Breakfast podcast, that "criminal defense lawyers who get paid for a living ... understand after awhile that you investigate cases, and a lot of cases go away once you do investigate them." Linthrop Pace's story is a great example of exactly that. I wish I could also say it's a great example of prevaricating cops being held accountable by their department, prosecutors, or the courts, but they all seemed to have let the matter pass with a wink and a nod.