No charges are planned on being filed against a California police officer who was in possession of between four and five pounds of marijuana at his home in Oakley, California.
Officer Joe Avila, a 17-year-veteran of the Richmond Police Force (RPF), has been under investigation by the RPF since January, according to the Richmond Confidential. It was around this time the RPF began to notice Avila was not filing any follow-up reports for about 37 calls of service he had gone on.
One of these calls was to a UPS Store in November, 2013, where it is suspected Avila had collected the marijuana and then failed to turn the drugs over to the department’s evidence department.
Robin Lipetzky, the county’s chief public defender, told the Raw Story, “They are cutting him some slack because he’s a police officer… Anybody else found with 5 pounds of marijuana in their possession, I don’t care who that is, that person is going to be charged with a crime.”
While he was under investigation, Avila said he had used two of the five pounds of marijuana to help train his police dog. The other drugs though, he did not comment on.
When the investigation was under way, Avila was the key witness in a case where he had helped to secure a conviction. However, Deputy Public Defender Elise McNamara who represented the defendant in this case, is saying this is an ethics violation.
“They have a constitutional mandate to disclose exculpatory evidence to us prior to a trial,” said McNamara. “If there’s an officer on the case who’s been discredited, then we have the right to know that.”
“The DA’s office is taking the position that this officer did nothing wrong. And because they think he did nothing wrong, they are not turning over any information,” said Lipetzky. “They have a vested interest in not having an officer’s credibility called into question, because then it impacts all the cases they’re trying to prosecute.”
As of now, Avila is on paid administrative leave.