Orange County, Calif., District Attorney Tony Rackauckas ignited a firestorm of criticism from law enforcers by saying that the had evidence of a “code of silence” in a police assault case, reports the Los Angeles Times. In the case, a deputy was accused of using excessive force by firing a Taser at a handcuffed suspect. Charges were dropped last month after a hung-jury verdict, with jurors leaning 11-1 to acquit. The DA’s spokeswoman said inconsistencies in the stories of fellow deputies ruined the case and indicated a “code of silence” among lawmen.
Her comments sparked outrage from Sheriff Sandra Hutchens and the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs. On Tuesday, Rackauckas said several deputies at the scene “softened” their version of events between the time they testified before a grand jury in 2008 and when they took the stand in the assault trial. “The deputy sheriffs in this case were not truthful,” he said. Hutchens said, “I was upset because when the statement was made, it seemed to refer to a pervasive code of silence in law enforcement in general, and nothing could be further from the truth.”