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Ex-Fullerton officer charged with destroying evidence in jail suicide case

KABC-TV covers Los Angeles and Southern California.

March 13, 2012 12:00:00 AM PDT
A former Fullerton Police officer was charged Tuesday with destroying evidence, thereby hindering a death investigation at the city jail.

Former officer Vincent Thomas Mater, 41, made a traffic stop on April 14, 2011, and determined the driver, Dean Gouchenour, was under the influence of alcohol.

Mater arrested Gouchenour and booked him at Fullerton City Jail. Mater is accused of wearing a digital audio recording device used to record interactions between officers and the public, a device issued by the Fullerton Police Dept.

Gouchenour committed suicide in his cell later that night. Mater is accused of destroying his audio recording device by crushing it. An Orange County District Attorney's Office investigation was hindered as a result as any interactions could not be recovered.

Mater is accused of destroying evidence that would have been relevant to the OCDA's custodial death investigation, according to the district attorney.

Mater was charged Tuesday with one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence and misdemeanor count of vandalism. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of a year and six months in jail. Mater is scheduled to be arraigned on March 26.