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‘You Pulled Over the Wrong Person,’ Gascón’s Chief of Staff Told Arresting Officer

‘You Pulled Over the Wrong Person,’ Gascón’s Chief of Staff Told Arresting Officer

Joseph Iniguez, chief of staff to LA County District Attorney George Gascón, attends a summit on county jail facilities in Pasadena, Calif., on Nov. 9, 2019. (Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Patrisse Cullors)

Jill McLaughlin
Jill McLaughlin

6/27/2024

Updated: 6/27/2024

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Videos released June 25 by police show Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón’s chief of staff warning officers they had “pulled over the wrong person” during a traffic stop.
Joseph Iniguez, 37, was a passenger in a Tesla when officers pulled it over in Azusa, about 20 miles east of Glendale, before midnight Dec. 11, 2021, after suspecting the driver was under the influence of alcohol.
Videos taken by Mr. Iniguez with his cellphone during the traffic stop were released by the Azusa Police Department this week in an effort to be transparent about the arrests, according to a department spokesman.
Mr. Iniguez and his fiancé, Dale Radford, were driving home from a wedding when they were stopped by police, according to the videos. Mr. Iniguez was arrested that night on suspicion of public intoxication and the driver was arrested on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Both men were booked and released the same night without police taking a blood sample.
In the video, Mr. Iniguez is heard telling his fiancé not to answer any questions from officers. He also questioned officers about the stop and instructed them to run the car’s license plate through the system, which would reveal who owned the car.
“You pulled over the wrong person, let me tell you,” Mr. Iniguez said during the encounter. “Did you run our plates? Run our plates and see what you find.”
Documents show that the arresting officer claimed Mr. Iniguez had “bloodshot” eyes and was slurring his speech when he allegedly interfered with officers during the stop.
In one video, the arresting officer was recorded telling Mr. Iniguez he was acting in an unsafe manner.
“You indicated to me. You’re not able to follow simple directions for your safety and the safety of the public,” the officer said. “You can see you’re not listening and stuttering in your speech. You’re not making any sense.”
Mr. Iniguez filed a federal lawsuit last year against the police department, accusing officers of violating his civil rights. The suit alleged that one officer, identified as R. Martinez, appeared frustrated that Mr. Iniguez had advised the driver of his rights.
The suit also claims he was asked by a jail officer about his sexual orientation during the booking process, but he “declined to answer out of fear for his safety.” Mr. Iniguez also claimed he was moved to a cell toward the rear of the jail that was dark, cold, and isolated, which was “oppressive and injurious,” according to the lawsuit.
The city settled with Mr. Iniguez in July 2023 for $10,000 to resolve the litigation at a minimal cost, according to statements made by the city manager in September 2023.
The videos released this week show Mr. Iniguez was processed without incident at the jail.
The police department maintained this week officers acted lawfully during the arrest.
“The Azusa Police Department is committed to operating with the utmost transparency and will adhere to all California public records laws,” spokesman Capt. Robert Landeros told The Epoch Times in an emailed statement. “We understand the importance of maintaining public trust.”
Regarding the arrest of Mr. Iniguez, the police department’s internal review determined the officers acted in “full accordance with the law and the policies” of the department, Mr. Landeros added.
“The City of Azusa and Chief [Rocky] Wenrick stand firmly behind our employees and the decisions made during this arrest,” he said.
Mr. Iniguez remains chief of staff to Mr. Gascón.
Mr. Iniguez’s attorney, Glen Jonas, said his client donated the settlement money to a nonprofit that advocates for modern approaches to constitutional policing.
“The video shows that Mr. Iniguez was 100 [percent], without a doubt, falsely arrested,” Mr. Jonas told The Epoch Times. “He was lucid, calm, direct and in full control.”
Mr. Jonas said he hoped everyone would try to protect his or her fiancé under the circumstances.
“Mr. Iniguez in my book is a hero,” he added. “He took a false arrest and used it to protect the good citizens of Azusa, who are now, because of him, protected with body worn cameras. Without body worn cameras more innocent citizens would be subjected to false arrests and defamation.”
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Jill McLaughlin is an award-winning journalist covering politics, environment, and statewide issues. She has been a reporter and editor for newspapers in Oregon, Nevada, and New Mexico. Jill was born in Yosemite National Park and enjoys the majestic outdoors, traveling, golfing, and hiking.

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