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A Los Angeles Police Department officer was arrested and charged Thursday following an investigation into allegations that he fondled a dead woman’s breasts while responding to an overdose call in October.
The alleged incident was reportedly captured on the officer’s body camera.
Officer David Rojas, 27, was charged with a felony violation of state safety codes, which prohibit “having sexual contact with human remains without authority,” according to a statement from the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.
The LAPD Internal Affairs Division arrested Rojas on Thursday then released him on a $20,000 bond, The Associated Press reported, citing the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department inmate locator website. He could face up to three years in state prison if convicted.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that usually provides legal counsel for the LAPD’s 10,000 members, released a statement saying it would not defend Rojas in any criminal proceedings.
“We hope that District Attorney Jackie Lacey charging Mr. Rojas for his vile alleged crime will bring some solace to the deceased woman’s family during their time of grieving,” the union’s board said in a statement. “His alleged behavior is abhorrent and an affront to every law enforcement professional working for the LAPD.”
“This incident is extremely disturbing and does not represent the values of the Los Angeles Police Department,” LAPD Chief Michel Moore also said, according to FOX 11 Los Angeles.
“This incident is extremely disturbing and does not represent the values of the Los Angeles Police Department.”
— Chief Michel Moore, Los Angeles Police Department
Rojas and his partner had responded to a report of a possible dead woman in a residential unit on Oct. 20. After the officers determined the woman had died, the partner returned to the patrol car to retrieve something, the Los Angeles Times first reported. At that point, Rojas allegedly deactivated his body camera and fondled the dead woman before later reactivating the camera. It was unclear how long the officer was left alone.
The incident was captured on video — even though the officer deactivated his camera — because of a two-minute buffer on the device, according to the Times. LAPD officer body cameras automatically save video and audio for two minutes after the device is initially deactivated.
Police officials conducting a random inspection of the officer’s body camera videos found the incriminating footage, according to a person briefed on the incident. The person wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the case and spoke to The Associated Press last week on condition of anonymity.
The LAPD is also reportedly investigating Rojas’ work history. The four-year veteran cop was placed on leave and stripped of his police powers last week during an internal investigation of the incident. He had been assigned to downtown’s Central Division.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.