Late last year, Los Angeles Police Department officer David Rojas was arrested for allegedly fondling Elizabeth Baggett’s breasts after she was deceased and while he was on duty. Though Rojas turned his body camera off before the incident, due to a video buffer it continued to record, reportedly filming his inappropriate actions for another two minutes. According to CNN, Rojas was charged with one felony count of having sexual contact with human remains without authority, was released on $20,000 bail soon after, and plead not guilty in January.
Now Rojas is being sued by Baggett’s family on accusations of “invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and mishandling of human remains among other allegations,” BuzzFeed reports. The lawsuit stipulates that Rojas fondled Baggett’s breasts and nipples after she reportedly died from an overdose on October 20, 2019.
Rojas has been on administrative leave since the discovery of his body camera footage. In December, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, Rojas’ union, released a statement condemning his actions and making it clear that they would not support him, USA Today reported at the time. “We hope that District Attorney Jackie Lacey charging Mr. Rojas for his vile alleged crime will bring some solace to the deceased woman’s family during their time of grieving,” read their statement, “The Los Angeles Police Protective League will not defend Mr. Rojas during his criminal proceedings, and his alleged behavior is abhorrent and an affront to every law enforcement professional working for the LAPD.”
It’s an interesting place for a police union to draw the line—especially considering that the Police Officers Federation of Minneapolis, a Minneapolis police union, has not publicly condemned the officers allegedly responsible for George Floyd’s death. (The president of the union, Bob Kroll, has, however, labeled Floyd a “violent criminal.”)
According to the lawsuit, however, the body cam footage was viewed by other LAPD officers. Baggett’s family attorney Gloria Allred held a press conference on Tuesday, where she said, “Learning... that the video of her alleged sexual molestation has been viewed by others sickens [the family] and is deeply disturbing... So many women are sexually abused during their lifetime, and now we learn that some are even sexually victimized after their deaths. To add insult to injury, the knowledge that a police officer, during the course of his investigation of the death of a young woman, would take advantage of his position of power and trust to allegedly sexually abuse the body of a deceased person is very upsetting.”
Bennett’s mother said, “I want justice for my daughter because of this horrible disgusting act. I live in fear that the video will surface and another devastation will be added to what is already unbearable,” CBS reports. “I am infuriated that this man had so little respect for another human being, our Elizabeth, for not having the thought that she was someone’s daughter, granddaughter and mother.”
Rojas trial has been delayed, but if he is convicted, he faces up to three years in prison.