The officer, who was later put on administrative leave, was responding to a call about a dead woman in a residential unit

By Christine Pelisek
December 04, 2019 02:47 PM
LAPD 
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A Los Angeles Police Department officer has been put on administrative leave after his body-worn camera allegedly caught him fondling a dead woman’s breasts.

“There was an accusation of that, and when we learned of it we initiated the administrative investigation and then assigned him home pending the outcome of that investigation,” LAPD chief spokesman Josh Rubenstein tells PEOPLE.

Rubenstein says the accusations are “absolutely troubling if it is true.”

The unidentified officer in question had been assigned to LAPD’s Central Division in downtown Los Angeles.

Rubenstein declined to discuss the specific allegations in the case.

“It is difficult for us to say anything unless we have done the investigation,” he says. “Right now we want to allow the investigation to run its course. It will be very thorough and it will be very sensitive as well.”

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According to the Los Angeles Times, which first reported the story, the officer and his partner had gone on a call about a dead woman in a residential unit when the alleged incident occurred.

The two officers gained entry to the residence and both observed that the woman was deceased.

“They both went out of the room and then the individual went back in on his own,” a source familiar with the incident tells PEOPLE.

The Times reports that the accused officer allegedly turned off his body camera and then fondled the deceased woman’s breasts.

Although the camera was turned off during the alleged occurrence, it was picked up by an automatic buffer, which automatically saves all footage from two minutes before the device is activated, according to the Times.

The source says the alleged incident occurred within the last month.

The Times reported that the alleged incident came to light during a random departmental audit of the body-worn cameras.

It is unclear how the deceased woman died.

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“The department isn’t going to take somebody off duty, take them away from the community and assign them home duty if there wasn’t anything on the video,” the source says to PEOPLE. “They are going to be working this both administratively and, potentially, criminally until they decide whether they want to send something to the district attorney’s office to file. I know that both of those channels are being pursued.”

Around 7,000 uniformed LAPD officers are assigned a body-worn camera.

“It has been a huge benefit when it comes to complaints, because it helps us either find them demonstratively false or find them justified,” says Rubenstein.

The department has always been auditing the video on these body cameras, but recently increased the frequency of this auditing, Rubinstein says.

“We have always been auditing but just recently — and it has nothing to do with anything with this story … we wanted to increase the frequency of the random audits,” he says. “We just put a new protocol in place just a few weeks ago.”

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