A jury watching apartment security surveillance video found that LAPD officers trumped up charges of drug possession against a suspected gang member, then lied about it under oath.
The man arrested, Guillermo Alarcon, could have spent at least two years in state prison. Yet on Wednesday, although vindicated, he says he has mixed emotions about the verdict.
"I kind of felt sad for the officers because I seen their family there, and not only did they put my family through bad moments, but they also put their family through bad moments," said Alarcon.
Former officers Evan Samuel and Richard Amio face four to five years in state prison. The jury was hung on charges against a third officer, Manuel Ortiz, who may be retried.
That puts Alarcon's civil suit against LAPD on hold, as well as a federal complaint that the officers allegedly violated his civil rights.
"I do not believe their intent was evil, just extremely misguided," said LAPD Chief Charlie Beck. "The character of our organization is defined by the conduct that we condone. These actions were entirely unacceptable."
Public defender Victor Acevedo, who obtained the tape that trapped the officers, raised questions Wednesday. What about other cases where there was no video? And the price Alarcon could have paid if his cameras had not captured the officers conspiring?
"For him to actually face the prospect of potentially going to prison for something he didn't do because of the actions of corrupt police officers, that should not be forgotten," said Acevedo.
Alarcon meantime has upgraded his home security cameras. He fears retaliation from friends of the convicted officers."Hopefully they're not as bad as the old ones, where it's all black and white and grainy. So hopefully if something was to happen around my house, we'll have a better tape," said Alarcon.
Former Officer Evan Samuel, 40, and Officer Richard Amio, 33, showed no emotion as the verdict was read on Tuesday.
The two officers had testified under oath that they chased suspected gang member Guillermo Alarcon into the carport of his Hollywood apartment building in 2007 and saw him toss a black box with cocaine, which they found immediately.
But grainy black and white surveillance video told a different story. It showed officers searching for more than 20 minutes before finding an object they said contained drugs. Defense attorneys argued the video was misleading.
A third officer, Manuel Ortiz, 39, was also accused of perjury and conspiracy but the jury deadlocked on those charges and the judge declared a mistrial.
If it wasn't for the surveillance video, Alarcon could have faced 10 years in prison. Instead, the two convicted officers will be heading there. Samuel faces more than five years behind bars and Amio faces more than four. They'll be sentence on Dec. 12.