Officer Defends Credibility After Report Surfaces - NBC 7 San Diego

Officer Defends Credibility After Report Surfaces

New allegations levied against San Diego Police stem from the arrest of an Arizona-area police sergeant



    Mesa Arizona police officer Javier Cota says he is not a liar.

    "I didn't do anything wrong,"Cota said after NBCSanDiego asked him about an internal affairs investigation from 2010 that accused him of lying to Mesa city officials.

    The investigation could be significant because Cota has filed a lawsuit against the San Diego Police Department.

    On June 4, Officer Cota, who was a sergeant at the time, said he was in San Diego for a wedding and went to the Gaslamp Quarter with his nephew for dinner and drinks.

    Cop vs Cop Lawsuit

    [DGO] Cop vs Cop Lawsuit
    Police Sgt. Javier Cota of Mesa, Arizona, who was arrested in San Diego's Gaslamp last June, is accusing SDPD officers of misconduct. NBC 7's Tony Shin spoke with Cota and his attorney Mary Frances Prevost in this exclusive report.
    (Published Wednesday, April 25, 2012)

    At about 3 a.m., Cota and his nephew shared a pedicab with two women they had just met.

    When the women got out of the pedicab to get something out of a car, they were allegedly approached by San Diego Police officers Ariel Savage and Justin Mattly.

    "I heard one of the girls tell the officer "I'm not interested, leave me alone" which kind of drew my attention," Cota said in an exclusive interview with NBCSanDiego. 

    Cota said the officers then asked the women about their sobriety.  He believed the officers were harassing the women for a reason.

    "The officer's sexual advances had been rebuffed was the reason why he decided to check to see if you (the women) were too drunk to drive," Cota said.

    At that point Cota questioned the officers intentions.  "Why are you treating these girls like dip*****," Cota said in court documents. 

    Cota said the officers ordered him out of the pedicab and arrested him for interfering with an investigation.

    "They retaliated by arresting me," Cota said.

    Cota claims supervising officers didn't believe his accusations and he was put in a detox tank, but claims he was not drunk.

    "I probably had five drinks over the whole course of the night, I had a full meal before we started," Cota said. 

    Attorney Mary Frances Prevost represents Cota in a civil lawsuit against the city of San Diego and the San Diego Police Department. 

    She said Cota asked San Diego Police Chief William Lansdowne to conduct a full investigation into his accusations.

    "And Chief Lansdowne says "not if you're going to sue me," Prevost said.

    Cota, who was president of the Mesa Police Officer's Union, said his job is in jeopardy because of the June arrest.

    "Even with all this that's going on, I have faith that somehow the truth will come out.. justice will prevail and the good guys would win," said Cota.

    Cota is trying to locate the two unidentified women who hitched a ride in his pedicab.

    He believes they will verify his story.

    Meantime, NBCSanDiego has also learned that Officer Ariel Savage is involved in another civil lawsuit which accuses him of police brutality in a separate incident.

    A spokesperson for San Diego Police could not comment about the allegations because of the lawsuit.

    But according to that internal affairs investigation by Mesa Police Department in 2010, Cota was accused of lying to city officials about a confidential email list. 

    He was accused of lying about sending that list to the police union he represented which was a big deal at the time because another union was trying to take over.

    Cota eventually told investigators that he didn't know his girlfriend had sent the email from his computer.

    Investigators determined he did not make false statements but he did give city officials inaccurate information.  He was suspended for nearly a week.

    "Those accusations of untruthfulness have absolutely nothing to do with what happened in San Diego,"Cota said.

    But former San Diego City attorney Anthony Solare disagreed.  He said city attorneys will undoubtedly use the information against Cota in the lawsuit.

    "It calls into question his credibility,"Solare said.

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