Baldwin Park attorney, activist arrested during park concert

BALDWIN PARK >> Police arrested an attorney who has sued the city seeking the release of several public documents, according to booking records obtained Friday.
Paul Cook, 32, of Baldwin Park was booked at the Baldwin Park Police Department’s jail on suspicion of disturbing an assembly during Thursday’s summer concert at Morgan Park, according to Cook and Los Angeles County booking records. He was released from custody with a misdemeanor citation within three hours of his booking at the Baldwin Park Police Department.
Baldwin Park police officials could not immediately be reached for comment Friday.
Cook said he believed the arrest was retaliation for his activism.
“It’s all political,” he said.
Cook said he was handing out leaflets critical of the city’s Recreation and Community Services Department to the crowd when the agency director, Manuel Carrillo Jr. took the stage to speak.
“I only said ‘boo’ twice. I said you steal money from the community,” Cook said. “At that point, five police officers came. They said you can’t be speaking.
Two complaints filed by Cook last year and this year seek the release of city documents and accuse Carrillo of misappropriating funds of a charity Carrillo heads.
City Attorney Robert Tafoya said some of documents sought in Cook’s complaints do not exist.
“I think it’s a frivolous lawsuit. It’s a lawsuit that never should have been filed,” Tafoya said of the most recent lawsuit.
The most recent complaint, filed in March, also names Baldwin Park Police Chief and then-acting CEO Mike Taylor, the Baldwin Park Community Center Corporation and Baldwin Park Finance Director Craig Graves as defendants.
Cook’s previous complaint, filed in October, named the city and it’s former CEO, Vijay Singhal, as defendants.
Cook said two officers grabbed him and escorted him from the park, and told him to leave.
Cook said he maintained he had a First Amendment right to speak at the park, and refused to leave. He was then arrested.
Cook said after being strip searched down to his underwear by a female officer, police rewrote his citation three times before ultimately citing him for disturbing an assembly.

— Staff Writer Melissa Masatani contributed to this report.

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Ex-Baldwin Park police officer pleads ‘no contest’ to filing false police report during drug arrest

A former Baldwin Park police officer pleaded “no contest” Thursday to an accusation of filing a false police report in connection with a 20013 drug arrest.
Matthew DeHoog, 29, entered the plea in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokeswoman Jane Robison said.
Judge Rand S. Rubin immediately sentenced the former police officer to three years of formal probation and 300 hours of community service, Robison said.
The plea came just as a jury trial in DeHoog’s case was scheduled to begin, she said.
If convicted by a jury, DeHoog could have faced up to three years in state prison.
The false police report was related to a July 31, 2013, arrest the officer made for the alleged crime of possessing methamphetamine, authorities said.
Police and prosecutors released few details were released about the accusation against DeHoog prior to his trial, and the handling prosecutor could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
DeHoog’s employment with the Baldwin Park Police Department ended in January of 2014, about a month before he was formally charged.
Baldwin Park Police Chief Mike Taylor declined to say whether DeHoog resigned or was terminated, citing privacy laws.
The chief could not be reached for comment late Thursday.
DeHoog remained free on his own recognizance leading up to his trial date,

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Baldwin Park murder suspect accidental released by sheriff’s officials last year re-captured in Mexico


A suspect in a fatal 2010 shooting in Baldwin Park who has been sought since he was accidentally released from sheriff’s custody last year due to a clerical error as he was awaiting trial was re-captured Wednesday in Mexico, authorities said.
Johnny Mata, 33, was awaiting trial for the fatal shooting of 34-year-old David Anthony Deanda on Christmas Eve of 2010 in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue, authorities said at the time. The slaying was believed to be gang related.
Sheriff’s officials launched a manhunt and asked the public’s help to recapture Mata in the weeks following Mata’s erroneous release. And they developed leads indicating he had fled to Mexico, likely near the San Ysidro border crossing, Deputy Juanita Navarro-Suarez of the Sheriff’s Headquarters Burau said in a written statement.
“On Wednesday, May 7, 2014, suspect Mata was located, detained and escorted by Mexican authorities to the United States-Mexico border, San Ysidro port of entry, where LASD personnel took custody of him,” Navarro-Suarez said. “Suspect Mata was re-booked into the Los Angeles County Jail system and is being held in lieu of $2,065,000 bail.”
El Monte police initially arrested Mata in connection with the 2010 Baldwin Park slaying on May 25, 2012, after he ran from a stolen car, according to El Monte police Lt. David Vautrin.
But Mata was accidentally released from the inmate processing unit at the Inmate Reception Center in Los Angeles on April 4, 2013, Los Angeles County sheriff’s officials said. The mistake stemmed from a clerical error, then-sheriff’s department spokesman Steve Whitmore said. A clerk failed to order Mata held pending his murder trial after a charge of attempted murder was dismissed.
Wednesday arrest came after a coalition Los Angeles County law enforcement agencies, U.S. Marshals Service officials, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials, U.S. Customs and Border Protection and the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department officials determined Mata’s whereabouts in Mexico, according to Navarro-Suarez said.
According to county booking records, Mata was scheduled to appear Thursday in Pomona Superior Court.

PHOTO of murder suspect Johnny Mata, 33, courtesy of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department.

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Preliminary hearing held for ex-Baldwin Park police officer accused of filing false report

LOS ANGELES — A judge Wednesday ruled there is enough evidence to move forward with a trial in the case of a former Baldwin Park police officer charged with filing a false police report in connection with a 2013 drug arrest.
Matthew DeHoog was ordered back to court April 16 for an arraignment hearing following Wednesday’s preliminary hearing, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office spokesman Ricardo Santiago said.
He pleaded not guilty in February to a charge of filing a false police report, officials said. The charge stems from an arrest he made July 31, 2013. But further details regarding the allegations against the officer were not available.
Baldwin Park Police Chief Michael Taylor said DeHoog’s employment with the Baldwin Park Police Department ended in January. However the chief said privacy law prevented him from saying wither DeHoog resigned or was terminated.
DeHoog remains free on his own recognizance pending trial. If convicted as charged, he faces up to three years in state prison.

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Officials: Police officer shoots charging dog in Baldwin Park

BALDWIN PARK — A police officer shot a dog, wounding it the foot, after it charged toward a fellow officer late Tuesday, officials said.
The incident unfolded about 11 p.m. as two officers were responding to an unrelated report of a disturbance in the 13200 block of Francisquito Avenue, just west of Frazier Street, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Darryl Kosaka said.
“A dog came after one of the officers,” he said. “A second officer, to prevent the dog from biting the one officer, fired two shots. One hit (the dog) in the foot.”
No officers were hurt.
Police found the dog’s owners and turned the animal over to them for any veterinary treatment, Kosaka said.
Police described the animal as a “large dog,” however the breed was not available Wednesday afternoon.

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UPDATED: Ex-Baldwin Park police officer accused of filing false report

LOS ANGELES >> Prosecutors Thursday filed a felony charge against a former Baldwin Park police officer accused of filing a false police report related to a drug arrest last year.
Matthew DeHoog, 29, pleaded not guilty to a count of filing a false report in Los Angeles Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said in a written statement. Judge Renee Korn ordered him released on his own recognizance pending his next court appearance.
“DeHoog wrote a false police report about a July 31, 2013, incident where a man was arrested for investigation of possession of methamphetamine,” according to the district attorney’s office statement.
The criminal complaint filed against DeHoog alleges that, while working as a police officer, he filed a report regarding the commission and investigation of a crime, “and knowingly and intentionally included a statement and statements regarding a material matter which the defendant knew to be false.”
But further details regarding the alleged false police report, including the identity of the man who was arrested, were not available.
“We’re not releasing any more facts of the case,” district attorney’s office spokesman Greg Risling said. “They’ll be released during the (preliminary hearing).”
The case was investigated by DeHoog’s former colleagues at the Baldwin Park Police Department. But police also declined to discuss the circumstances of the case.
“He’s a former police officer with our department and he’s no longer employed by us,” Baldwin Park Police Chief Michael Taylor said.
DeHoog’s employment with the department ended in early January, Taylor said.
The chief said he had no further comment regarding the allegations against the former officer, or the case filed Thursday by the district attorney’s office.
“It’s unfortunate when anything like this happens in the law enforcement community,” Taylor said.
DeHoog was ordered to return to court March 4 for a preliminary hearing setting, Risling said.
DeHoog could not be reached for comment Thursday.
Under state law, DeHoog faces up to three years in prison if convicted as charged.
The July, 2013, incident was not DeHoog’s first time being involved in a controversial arrest.
He, along with two other Baldwin Park police officers, arrested then-city councilman Anthony Bejarano on suspicion of being drunk in public.
The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office ultimately declined to file any charge against Bejarano, and the former councilman filed a personnel complaint against his arresting officers. He denied he was drunk or uncooperative, as was stated in the officers’ report.
An internal department review into the situation was conducted and completed, though the results were never made public, as then-police chief Lili Hadsell said the issue was a confidential personnel matter.

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Temple City man fatally shot in Baldwin Park identified

BALDWIN PARK — Coroner’s officials have identified a 43-year-old Temple City man found fatally shot on a Baldwin Park sidewalk over the weekend.
Steven Contreras was pronounced dead at a hospital shortly after he was found wounded by a passer-by about 7:30 p.m. Saturday at Whitesell Street and Virginia Avenue, Los Angeles County Department of Coroner Lt. Larry Dietz said.
He had been shot several times in the upper torso, Lt. Eddie Hernandez of the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau said.
No information regarding a motive or a suspect was available.
Anyone with information was asked to contact Hernandez at the Sheriff’s Homicide Bureau at 323-890-5500.

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Man fatally shot in Baldwin Park

BALDWIN PARK — A man died following a shooting in Baldwin Park late Saturday, however little information was available.
The shooting was reported about 7:30 p.m. in at Whitesell Street and Virginia Avenue, in a mixed residential and commercial neighborhood, Deputy Crystal Hernandez of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Headquarters Bureau said in a written statement.
Police received calls reporting both “shots fired” and a “man down” when they came upon the wounded man lying outdoors, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Joe Meister said.
No information regarding a possible suspect was available.
The victim, described initially only as a man, was taken to a hospital where he died from his wounds, Hernandez said.
No information regarding the circumstances of the shooting was released Sunday, and coroner’s officials were yet to identify the dead man.

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Families, protesters angered over arrests at Baldwin Park checkpoint


Immigrant rights activists and upset family members gathered Sunday in Baldwin Park to express outrage over the arrests of 37 people during an overnight sobriety and drivers’ license checkpoints.
Dozens of demonstrators, some carrying signs with slogans such as “driving is not a crime,” demanded answers from Baldwin Park police over what they called a round-up of undocumented immigrants.
But police said the arrests were the result of recent changes in policies regarding what types of identification the court will accept when police issue a misdemeanor citation, such as one for driving without a license. And officials maintained that such checkpoints are a valuable took in combatting intoxicated driving.
Tearful children were taken into the custody of county officials as parents were arrested during the checkpoint, said Debbie Leance, a volunteer with Inland Empire Rapid Response Network. The majority, she said, were arrested only for driving without a license. One video shot by the demonstrators depicted a girl crying while explaining that the police were taking her mother away, “Because she’s not from here.”
“It’s such a large roundup. It’s unprecedented,” Leance said. It’s so unnecessary. That seems like a federal agenda.”
Activists and family members of those arrested waited outside the police station for them to go through the booking process and be released from custody.
Baldwin Park police Captain David Reynoso said 37 drivers were arrested at the checkpoint “for a variety of reasons, including DUI.”
Three drivers were arrested for intoxicated driving during the checkpoint, and three others were arrested for other DUI-related offenses, such as driving without a court-ordered ignition interlock device.
A full tally of the booking charges from the checkpoint was not available Sunday, he said.
The checkpoints were held between 6 p.m. Saturday and 2 a.m. Sunday, the captain said. Officers first set up a checkpoint at Los Angeles and Littlejohn streets before moving it later in the night to Ramona Boulevard and Barnes Avenue.
“The checkpoint was properly posted,” Reynoso said, adding that advance notice was given.
Those arrested for driving without a license also had no valid identification with them, Reynoso said.
Changes in the types of identification being accepted by the West Covina Superior Court in recent months mean officers are no longer able to accept some forms of identification, such as Matricula Consular identification, when issuing misdemeanor citations, Reynoso said.
As a result, when officers encounter unlicensed drivers who do not have valid identification, police must take them to arrest them and book them at police station in order to confirm their identities before issuing a citation.
A checkpoint held by the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in nearby La Puente on the night of Dec. 21 and 22 netted 78 arrests, 56 of them for driving without a valid license, sheriff’s officials said in a written statement.
But a checkpoint held by Arcadia police late Saturday and early Sunday resulted in three DUI arrests, six citations for driving without a valid license and three one-day vehicle impounds, according to Arcadia police Traffic Sgt. Brett Bourgeous.
While driving is not a crime, as protest signs stated, “Driving without a license is against the law,” Reynoso said.
“The whole purpose for this checkpoint is public safety,” Reynoso said. “We understand that this could create a hardship, but it only takes one impaired driver to change a family’s life forever.
Ivan Gonzales, 25, of Baldwin Park said his girlfriend was crying and shaking when taken to hail in handcuffs for failing to have a valid drivers license and identification.
“She’s never been arrested. Not even a ticket,” he said.
Fourteen hours after her arrest, Gonzalez said neither he nor his girlfriend’s family had heard from her as they continued awaiting her release.
Justice for Immigrants Coalition legal coordinator J. Daniel Guzman said police failed to release some vehicles to licensed drivers with the owners’ permission at the checkpoint, as mandated by a state law that took effect in 2012.
But Reynoso said officers released 12 cars that were being driven by unlicensed drivers to other drivers who with valid licenses.
Despite the new law regarding police impounds at checkpoints, a separate law governs vehicle impounds in cases in which the driver is arrested, Reynoso said.

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Man robbed along Maine Avenue in Baldwin Park

BALDWIN PARK — Two men with a handgun robbed a Baldwin Park man Friday afternoon as he walked along Maine Avenue, officials said.
The victim, a man in his early-50s, was on his way to a nearby barbershop about 5:45 p.m. when he was approached by two men along Maine Avenue near Scott Place, Baldwin Park police Sgt. Melissa Stehly said.
One of the men brandished a handgun as the suspects demanded money, she said. The victim turned over his wallet, which contained between $15 and $30. The robbers then ran off, and the victim was not injured.
Police described the robbers at Latino men between 25 and 30 years old, both with shaved heads and wearing white T-shirts.

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