They could have started a DUI investigation, authorities said. Instead, two Los Angeles police officers drove a motorist home, told him to go to sleep and called it a night, prosecutors allege. Oh, and then they lied on their report, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.
Now officers Rene Marcial Ponce, 39, and Irene Gomez, 38, are facing formal allegations of filing a false police report and "conspiracy to commit an act injurious to the public," according to the DA's office. The two have pleaded not guilty.
Prosecutors say that on Oct. 26, 2014, the duo responded to a collision in the 3000 block of East Side Boulevard in Boyle Heights. When the officers reached the scene, an "alleged drunken driver," identified in charging documents only as "Garcia," was accused of having collided with two parked vehicles, according to a statement from prosecutors.
In such a situation, Los Angeles Police Department policy would have required a DUI investigation, according to the DA's complaint. The cops "did willfully conspire together and with another person and persons whose identity is unknown to commit an act injurious to the public health," the court document states.
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The duo drove Garcia home, "where they directed him to go to sleep," prosecutors stated. Then they "collectively" lied on a police traffic accident report by indicating the driver allegedly responsible for the collisions had fled the scene, the DA's office alleged.
"Motive is not something I'm able to discuss at this time," a DA's spokeswoman said. She said the driver was not a public figure.
Ponce, a 13-year veteran of the force, and Gomez, a three-year badge, have been sent home with pay as the department conducts an internal affairs investigation, Officer Tony Im said. Los Angeles Sheriff's Department inmate records indicate the officers were arrested and released Wednesday.
Each cop faces three years behind bars if successfully convicted. The duo is due in court again Oct. 11.