.OPD Accused of Covering Up Home Invasion and Assault by Off-Duty Officers

At a news conference yesterday, a married Oakland couple said that members of the the Oakland Police Department attempted to cover up a home invasion and assault perpetrated by at least two drunken off-duty Oakland cops, and that multiple Oakland police officers investigating the incident pressured them to change their story about what happened.

See also: Oakland Cops Implicated in Home Invasion and Assault

[jump] As the Express first reported on its website Tuesday, two off-duty Oakland police officers wearing plain clothes attempted to break into the Oakland hills home of Olga and Nemesio Cortez on the evening of December 7. One of the cops, identified as Oakland police Officer Cullen Faeth, was “banging” on the Cortez’s front door and yelling “let me in,” and “open the fucking door,” according to a claim filed yesterday with the City of Oakland by attorney Melissa Nold.

Another officer, who has been identified as Oakland police Sergeant Joseph Turner, went around the back of the house in an apparent attempt to gain entry. Mr. Cortez went out front to try to get Faeth to leave, but Faeth allegedly kicked him in the stomach, the complaint states. Both Mr. and Mrs. Cortez then saw Turner “running out of their backyard from their side gate.” Turner “placed his hand under his shirt and appeared to point a gun at Mrs. Cortez from underneath his shirt.” Then Turner ran up the street and disappeared, but the Cortezes held down Faeth with the help of their neighbors until on-duty Oakland police officers arrived.

The incident was not made public by the police department until I obtained a copy of the police report through a Public Records Act request. The police report described only one suspect taken into custody as a result of the attempted home invasion and assault — Faeth, an Oakland police officer who was hired in December 2013. John Burris and Melissa Nold, attorneys for the Cortez family, identified the second suspect who fled the scene as Sergeant Turner.

Oakland Police Department spokesman Officer Marco Marquez declined to tell the Express whether Turner was one of the suspects. So far, the department has only issued a statement claiming that four officers have been placed on paid administrative leave while an internal affairs investigation is underway, but besides Faeth, the department has not named the three other officers. The incident report also noted that Faeth was arrested for assault and being drunk in public.

But according to the Cortez family and their attorneys, Sergeant Turner not only fled the scene and wasn’t taken into police custody that night, he in fact communicated with on-duty officers who were responding to the crime scene, and then got into a civilian vehicle and left the area.

“Witnesses recount seeing a man [Turner] running up the middle of the street, at the time of the incident, who was stopped by the first responding City of Oakland Police Department patrol car,” wrote Nold in the claim filed with the city yesterday. “The fleeing second man leaned into the police car, appeared to speak to the officer and was then permitted to leave. The fleeing second man got into a non-police vehicle, occupied by at least one other person, and left the scene.”

According to the police report, the first responding officers to the scene were Christopher Lorenz and Huy Nguyen, but the department redacted most of the report making it impossible to tell if officers Lorenz and Nguyen did in fact speak with Turner before he left the scene.

The police report authored by officer Lorenz described Faeth’s demeanor when they arrived as “calm” and “polite.” But multiple witnesses told the Cortez family’s attorneys that Faeth was acting “wild,” and that when Faeth was placed into a police cruiser, he began to bang his head against the vehicle’s windows and shake the vehicle.

According to the Cortez family, three hours after the Faeth was arrested three Oakland police officers came to their home at 12:30 am. Cortez and her husband said that the officers identified themselves as a captain, sergeant, and officer, and Mrs. Cortez, who herself is a county probation department officer, found it strange that such a high ranking police official would be visiting her home to investigate the incident. At this point the Cortezes still did not know the identities of the men who attacked them the previous night, nor that they were Oakland police officers.

Then according to the Cortez family and their attorneys, three hours later, at 3:30 in the morning, five more Oakland police officers came to their home and wanted to interview Mr. and Mrs. Cortez separately.

“During Mrs. Cortez’s interview officers were trying to get her to change her statement and relay the events in a way that would be more favorable to the man who was arrested,” attorneys for the Cortez family wrote in their claim. “An officer tried to convince Mrs. Cortez to change her story and relay that the first man was simply knocking on on the front door, instead of the reality that he was banging, rattling the door, pushing the door and demanding entry. The officer was also trying to get Mrs. Cortez to say that the first man simply knocked her over while falling down, instead of the reality that the man put both arms around her in a bear hug and knocked her to the ground.”

The claim states that these officers were trying to get the Cortez family to “sanitize their story,” and that the officers “would not answer any questions about the suspect.”

Two weeks then went by, and according to Mrs. Cortez, the Oakland police would not provide any further information about the suspect. She then began hearing rumors that the suspect who was arrested, and the man who fled the scene, were Oakland cops. According to the claim filed with the city, Mrs. Cortez was then told by Lieutenant Roland Holmgren that the two men were Oakland police officers, and that they mistakenly went to her house looking for a party, and that they were just “being silly.”


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