Team 10 obtains court records suggesting San Diego Police Department cover-up

Court transcripts cite confidential testimony

SAN DIEGO - Federal court records suggest former and current San Diego police leadership may have covered for a corrupt cop.

Team 10 found federal court transcripts that describe a confidential meeting at the department's highest level between former chief William Lansdowne and Executive Chief David Ramirez.

The transcripts stem from the remaining civil lawsuit against the city of San Diego for the actions former officer Anthony Arevalos, who was convicted on multiple counts of sexual battery.

Lawyers for Arevalos' 13th victim, who is only known as Jane Doe, address a 1997 incident where Arevalos detained a mentally unstable woman and took pictures as she preformed sex acts on herself with his police baton.

Arevalos' former partner alerted police supervisors of the incident. However, court records show it was never reported to internal affairs. Arevalos would go on to assault 13 women while on duty until his conviction in 2011.

"This all could have been stopped years ago," Arevalos' former partner Francisco Torres said under oath in 2012. "He has his Polaroid out and when I got there the female was in the backseat again naked with her handcuffs in front of her and she had the baton."

A court transcript revealed Lansdowne and his deputy, Ramirez, responded when the incident was reported in the media.

"When the reporters … get it in the news, we have a problem," Ramirez said to Lansdowne, according to the transcript.

Court records show Lansdowne replied, "I want to do one thing and one thing only -- find that documentation."

Depositions taken for Doe's case show Ramirez called police supervisors in 2011 to find out if the supervisors had documented the baton incident in 1997.

Both Lansdowne's and Ramirez's depositions in the Doe case are confidential. However, in court, Doe's attorney uses Ramirez's deposition in oral arguments. The transcript is public record.

"Chief Ramirez testified under oath that he and chief Lansdowne … get together to try and figure out not if it really happened, not if there are any witnesses left, only to take documentation that is going to come around and bite them in the bottom," Joe Dicks, Doe's attorney, said.

Lansdowne retired weeks after Team 10 broke the story about former officer Christopher Hays, who is accused of sexual harassment while on duty.

Lansdowne, who did not return calls for this story, was replaced by the current chief, Shelley Zimmerman.

A police spokesman said any comment for this story would have to come from the city attorney.

City Attorney Jan Goldsmith declined to comment.

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