Newly-released surveillance video has reignited a firestorm in the controversial case of a former police officer convicted of preying on women while on patrol for the San Diego Police Department in the Gaslamp Quarter of San Diego – an area of the city known for its restaurants and nightlife.
While many of Arevalos’ victims have sued the City of San Diego and reached settlements in those suits, one case involving a victim known only as "Jane Doe" is still open and new video linked to her case is prompting her civil attorneys to speak out in anger, claiming corruption and cover-up on the part of the SDPD in this woman’s case.
“This is a case of public safety, as well as private tragedy. The city has a police department that needs correction,” Jane Doe’s attorney, Browne Greene, told NBC 7 on Tuesday.
According to Greene, San Diego City Attorney Jan Goldsmith had an investigator follow Jane Doe in order to gather evidence for the city’s defense against a lawsuit Jane Doe had filed against the City of San Diego.
At various times, the woman was taped on surveillance video. This included a visit to her father on a Fourth of July weekend. At one point in the video, she is taped kissing her boyfriend.
In a letter accompanying the video, an investigator writes that the video shows Jane Doe “attired in shorts and bending fully over in public on several occasions.”
Greene says the inference in that letter is that his client is promiscuous and flirtatious. He says his client had no idea she was being watched by investigators.
“They have to use it for what? A pretext to maybe find some dirt? That’s what they’re looking for here – to try to smear her,” said Greene.
According to Goldsmith, surveillance like this is routine. He says not doing it would be malpractice.
“It’s part of normal prep for trial. We do it in every case -- big cases, some small cases we don’t. It’s done by lawyers all across the country,” said Goldsmith.
Still, Greene says the videos have crossed the line and make his client look bad, while “not telling the truth about the facts in this case.”
Furthermore, Greene says this is no way to treat a victim who did everything police asked of her for the criminal case, including helping police make a phone call in which Arevalos admitted what he did to her during a violent sexual assault in February 2010 that included placing his hand inside her pants.
“She was the number one witness for the prosecution and now this is the thanks – this is the justice – given back by the city,” said Greene.
Arevalos’ case is due back in court Friday for a hearing. Defense attorneys for Arevalos say four pages of notes written by Jane Doe were not turned over to them, and argue those notes may have helped their criminal case.
Greene says the San Diego Police Department knew about the notes, just as they knew about numerous early complaints made against Arevalos. Greene claims police failed to turn the notes over so that if Arevalos was convicted, there would be grounds for an appeal.
He fears Arevalos may get out of his prison sentence on this technicality.
“Now, you have the sheer irony of perhaps Officer Arevalos being able to take a walk and get out of prison, perhaps endanger other people, because of what the city failed to do in terms of public safety,” Greene explained. “It’s just another example of the willy-nilly lack of care, ‘protect officers first’ attitude of this department.”
The San Diego mayor’s office and District Attorney’s office would not comment Tuesday regarding Greene’s allegations of corruption and cover-up because it’s all part of an appeal, as well as part of the ongoing civil litigation.