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DA won't charge SJ cop in fake arrest case

October 22, 2010 7:36:51 AM PDT
In the South Bay, the district attorney has made a decision about whether to prosecute a San Jose police officer who pulled a scared straight stunt on a teenaged neighbor. The incident was captured on smartphone video and shown around the country. This nationally publicized case turned into a debate of a parenting lesson versus abuse of police power.

In the eyes of the Santa Clara County District Attorney's Office, the San Jose officer did not violate the law when he handcuffed and took into temporary custody a 15-year-old boy, who he learned had had sex with the officer's 14-year-old stepdaughter.

Part of the alleged fake arrest was secretly recorded on cell phone video by the boy's father. During the August 30 confrontation, the motorcycle officer showed up in uniform at the end of his shift.

The debate is over whether he violated the law or any department policy. The boy's parents say they thought the officer came to arrest their son and that they never gave permission to the officer to use scared straight tactics, which they say included berating and lecturing, handcuffing him, writing an arrest case card and then telling the parents he wasn't going to arrest their son after all.

After reviewing the case, the DA's office has determined that under a welfare and institutions code, the officer has the authority to take a minor into temporary custody, if there's reasonable cause to believe a criminal offense was committed; in this case, unlawful sexual intercourse. The law also allows an officer to arrest, cite or release the minor with a warning.

While the officer is not facing criminal charges, he remains on paid administrative leave. The police department is still deciding whether the officer's conduct violated any department regulations. If so, discipline could range from extra training to termination.

Meanwhile, the department is drafting a new policy that would prohibit officers from handling cases involving family members.


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