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After a woman complained that she’d been sexually assaulted while being taken to jail by a police officer in February 2010, San Diego police recommended criminal charges for the officer, Anthony Arevalos. But prosecutors declined to take the case to court, and police sent Arevalos back to patrol as usual.
Numerous questions remain about why police and prosecutors made those decisions, as we explained in our story today. After the officer went back to work, prosecutors say he solicited sexual favors from or sexually assaulted at least five women.
We asked police and prosecutors to explain their decisions before we ran the story. Steve Walker, a spokesman for District Attorney Bonnie Dumanis, said prosecutors do not comment on pending cases. Lt. Andra Brown, a police spokeswoman, said police had been told by prosecutors not to comment.
These are a few of the questions Walker and Brown refused to address:
• Police say they thoroughly investigated the woman’s February 2010 complaint. What did investigators actually do? Did they interview the woman and Arevalos and close the case? Or did they do other detective work as well?
• Following the investigation, which charges did police recommend to prosecutors and why did the District Attorney’s Office dismiss them?
• If police investigators recommended charges to the District Attorney’s Office, why was Arevalos sent back to his same job? Why wasn’t he reassigned or fired?
• In the wake of more recent allegations, police have reopened their investigation of the February 2010 complaint. Did the District Attorney’s Office make a mistake by not filing charges last year?
• Court documents filed by investigators cite an anonymous source who said it was widely known that Arevalos engaged in a pattern of police misconduct. Does the Police Department agree with that assessment? If so, why did it continue employing him as a police officer?
• Police records show that Arevalos arrested women on drunk-driving charges more often than his peers. Did police recognize this trend or address it any way while Arevalos was employed by the department?
• In some cases, prosecutors say Arevalos spent hours by himself with drivers but then didn’t make an arrest. Did his immediate supervisors recognize this as a problem?
On Friday, we asked City Council members and Mayor Jerry Sanders to comment on the Police Department’s response to the February 2010 complaint. None of them have responded so far.
Although police and prosecutors refuse to discuss the case, I’d love to hear your thoughts. Which questions do you want addressed and why? Please add them to the comments section below or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
If you haven’t already read our story about the Arevalos case, you can find it by clicking here. If you’re more of a TV person, click here to watch a video from our media partners at NBC San Diego. If you’re more of a radio person, click here to listen to a report by KPBS.