David Rojas, a police officer with the LAPD has been arrested following an investigation into footage seen on his body camera, which allegedly showed him fondling a deceased woman’s breast. He has been charged with a felony count of “sexual contact with human remains without authority,” according to Newsweek.
According to the report, Rojas and his partner came into contact with a deceased woman on October 20, while responding to a call about a potential body. After he and his partner confirmed that the woman was dead, a body camera reportedly captured footage of Rojas inappropriately touching her body. Prior to the incident, Rojas turned off his body camera, but the equipment continued to record his actions for another two minutes, due to a video buffer. The camera was turned in that night, according to protocol, and the video was discovered during a random check of officers’ cameras.
After the footage was discovered by a supervisor, the department launched an investigation and put Rojas on leave. In a statement released on Thursday, The Los Angeles Police Protective League condemned Rojas’ actions and confirmed that it will not be defending Mr. Rojas during his criminal proceedings.
This incident reiterates questions about the effectiveness of body cameras, which in theory were put in place to hold officers accountable, but in practice can often be easily avoided. Had Rojas’ camera not buffered, the footage never would’ve been captured; had his recording not been selected for a random review, it’s unlikely that the footage would have been seen by his superiors. Within the LAPD, officers are able to turn off their cameras manually when they deem it appropriate, a rule put in place to prevent officers from recording their steering wheels while driving, which also provides a way to hide misconduct. If Rojas is convicted he faces a prison sentence of up to three years.