What prosecutors saw in a surveillance video won freedom for accused gang member Guillermo Alarcon and instead led to felony charges against three LAPD officers.
It all started in 2006. Officers say they saw Alarcon with something in his hand and they chased him. They say Alarcon tossed the object -- a box with cocaine -- which they found immediately.
They swore on the police report and in Alarcon's trial that that they were telling the truth. Then came the stunning disclosure from Alarcon's public defender: there had been four cameras on the property and one even recorded audio. The tape appeared to reveal multiple inconsistencies with the officers' account and raised questions about who really dropped the drugs.
In July 2008, public defender Victor Acevedo described to Eyewitness News what statements were heard on the tape.
"One of the officers turns around and just blatantly tells the other officer, 'Hey, be creative in your writing.' To top that off, you have other officers actually responding, 'Hey, don't worry, we've done this before,'" said Acevedo.
Former Officer Evan Samuel faces five charges, Richard Amio faces three and Manuel Ortiz faces two.
In court Monday, prosecutor Geoff Rendon reviewed the officers' testimony that they had found the drugs immediately, yet the tape shows a search that lasted nearly 28 minutes. Still, the defense says the officers were truthful and that the tape provided by Alarcon shows a secondary part of the search for another piece of evidence, which happened later.
"It's like not reading the whole book, missing chapter one or two of a book," said defense attorney Ira Salzman.
The defense also asserts that the public defender could have told the court about the tape much earlier, possibly avoiding the charges against the officers.