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Detective cases to be audited after Pasadena cops accused of hiding evidence

Pasadena Police Department car.
Pasadena Police Department car.
Stock Photo Erika Aguilar/KPCC

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An outside agency will audit eight years worth of police cases investigated by the Pasadena Police Department’s detective bureau. The audit comes after a judge in Los Angeles declared a mistrial in a murder case earlier this month because officers withheld evidence.

Officers Kevin Okamoto and William Broghamer were accused of hiding evidence in a 2007 murder case.

It’s not the first time Okamoto has been accused of withholding exculpatory evidence. In a 2009 assault case, a defense attorney accused him of intimidating witnesses and not turning over notes from interviews he had conducted.

The Pasadena Star-News and the Pasadena Sun newspapers have more coverage on the on-going investigation into alleged misconduct by Okamoto and Broghamer.

Officer Okamoto, a department gang expert, is a rotational officer, not permanently assigned to the PPD detective bureau. Rotational officers are temporarily assigned to different investigative units for in-service development, often available to officers on the department’s promotional list.
Okamoto worked in the detective bureau twice, once in 2007 for approximately two years and a second time in 2010, rotating out of the bureau by Feb. 2011.

In a written statement released Monday evening, Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said the private L.A.-based agency Veritas Assurance Group will review the cases Okamoto and Broghamer investigated since 2005.

“The allegation of misconduct against the two members of our department is deeply concerning and has an immense impact on our employees and the community we serve,” said Sanchez in the statement.

“I will not tolerate any misconduct," Sanchez added. "However, I would caution against broad-based assumptions of our professional men and women based on the allegations against a few.”

The department chose to start with the year 2005 for the audit because it is two years before Okamoto began working on the 2007 murder case in question.

“We wanted to start at period before then to do an assessment on cases that may have precipitated that, so we said let’s go back two years,” said Lt. Tracey Ibarra, a spokeswoman for the police chief.

An executive summary of the audit will be made public and the police department’s Internal Affairs Section will continue to investigate allegations against Okamoto and Broghamer, according to the statement.

“The auditing company is also going to examine a cross section of various detective bureau reports and criminal case filing procedures to make sure there is consistency,” Lt. Ibarra said.

The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has also been conducting its own investigation into complaints against Officers Kevin Okamoto, William Broghamer and Corporal Keith Gomez, another Pasadena police detective. Chief Sanchez requested the LASD’s assistance last year when his department was riddled with complaints filed against those three officers.

Pasadena police came under a microscope last March after the officer-involved fatal shooting of a 19-year old unarmed man who was hit numerous times in back. Police chased him as a suspected robber after a false 9-1-1 call.

Pasadena community activist Martin Gordon was skeptical of the new audit.  
"The bottom line is we need some community oversight with what's happening with the police department," he said.
Gordon said he’s waiting to see the report from the LA County’s Office of Independent Review on how thorough the PPD investigation into the McDade shooting was. That report from the OIR is expected in about a month.

This story has been updated.