Saturday, December 1, 2012

Officer destroys audio recorder

A police officer destroyed an audio recorder that recorded his interactions with a suspect who later killed himself. Could he have destroyed evidence to cover something up?
A former Fullerton police officer has been sentenced to probation for destroying an audio recorder that captured his interactions with a drunk-driving suspect who later killed himself in the city jail.

Vincent Thomas Mater, 42, pleaded guilty to misdemeanor counts of destruction of property and vandalism and was sentenced Thursday to three years of informal probation and 60 days of community service under a plea bargain offered by Orange County Superior Court Judge Frances Munoz. Mater could have faced 18 months in jail had he gone to trial on the charges.

Mater arrested Dean Francis Gochenour in April 2011 on suspicion of drunk driving and transported him to the city jail, where Gochenour hanged himself later that night.

Prosecutors said that after learning of Gochenour's death, Mater destroyed his digital audio recorder -- which all Fullerton officers are required to activate during all public contacts -- by crushing it and then removing the motherboard and circuit board after learning of Gochenour's death.

The destruction of the audio recorder prevented investigators from the D.A.'s office from recovering audio that could have given an insight into Gochenour's interactions with Mater.

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