I would love to get advice from you. I want to give you my condolences. I spoke with your attorney. I am going to seek legal advice from him. Would it be to emotional for you to call me? God bless you.
By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The LAPD mounted two investigations of its own into police conduct in the Vega arrest, but both were inconclusive. The day after Vega's shooting, Sergeants Ron Dickerson and Doug Roller were assigned to handle the complaint filed by Vega's mother and his girlfriend, Yaira Garcia (no relation to Eva). When they returned her call, however, Prudhomme and Garcia had flown to Guatemala for Vega's funeral. The detectives said they assumed the move was permanent — it was not — and decided to close the investigation without questioning any members of the CRASH unit.
Yet Dickerson and Roller were aware at least that Yaira Garcia had returned from Guatemala: They addressed a letter to her on April 1, 1997, informing her that the complaint "could not be clearly resolved" due to "conflicting information from the involved parties."
One last internal investigation was launched in 2001, after Montoya and Rios were interviewed by Internal Affairs. Both officers were charged with writing false reports, for failing to mention Vega in their logs, and with lying to Internal Affairs by saying Montoya had informed Curiel of their contacts with Vega.
After an internal hearing in February 2002, Montoya and Rios were exonerated on all counts. On the key question of what Montoya told Curiel, the detective declined to testify and his own records showed no reference to the Vega arrest, but the disciplinary panel determined "Curiel was not a meticulous note taker" and that without more solid evidence "the board would have to use suspicion and speculation" to find against the officers.
THE OFFICIAL INQUIRIES DO NOT GIVE MUCH OF A ROLE TO Ethan Cohan, the officer who Vega's mother and sister blamed for harassing Vega in the final months of his life. Laesecke's report mentions him as a member of the gang unit that day, and her report goes to some length to refute a specific allegation by one gang member who alleges he saw Cohan — not Montoya — driving with Vega on Pico Boulevard moments before the shooting was reported. But Laesecke does not mention that Cohan was on hand for the Lake Street arrest, or that he was among the officers who responded to the homicide.
In their declarations, Vega's mother and sister say they specifically named Cohan in lodging their official complaint against the Rampart gang squad. And they say he came to their house the day after the homicide to offer his condolences. He told them he had been in the ambulance with Vega when he died and that he had been good friends with Erik.
"I knew Cohan was lying," Prudhomme says now. "He was the one Erik was afraid of more than any of the others." When she confronted him, Prudhomme says, Cohan "became very upset" and asked about the personnel complaint she had filed: "I told him I was going to find out what happened to my son, and to get out of my house."