The chief of staff of Los Angeles County District Attorney George Gascón was arrested earlier this month on suspicion of public intoxication following an incident with officers from the Azusa Police Department.
Azusa is located about 20 miles east of downtown L.A. and is one of the dozens of cities in L.A. County that issued a vote of no-confidence in D.A. Gascón, the target of a renewed attempt to recall the progressive prosecutor from office.
KFI News broke the story on Tuesday morning.
The Los Angeles Times reported, “Joseph Iniguez, 36, was arrested shortly before midnight during a traffic stop on Dec. 11, according to L.A. County jail records.” According to the Times, “Iniguez said the arrest was unjust, claiming officers detained him as punishment for filming the encounter” during an exclusive interview on Tuesday morning.
Iniguez said he was returning home from a wedding with his fiancé and claimed the couple “stopped at a drive-through restaurant in Asuza (sic) when they were approached by police,” the Times reported.
However, sources within the Azusa Police Department reportedly told KFI’s Steve Gregory that law enforcement came into contact with Iniguez and his companion during “a traffic stop.”
Gregory reported that police were questioning the driver, Iniguez’s partner, when Iniguez exited the vehicle and started recording the interaction with his cell phone.
“Sources closer to the case have characterized Iniguez’s behavior as belligerent, and at one point, saying ‘You really effed up,’” Gregory said. “Not only is he the chief of staff of the D.A.’s office, but he also heads up the Justice Integrity Unit, which oversees police conduct.”
Gregory reported that Iniguez was released from jail a few hours after he was arrested and had “sobered up,” citing undisclosed sources.
Since the Azusa Police Department does not have a body-camera program in place, the only video of the altercation that exists is believed to have been captured by Iniguez’s cell phone.
“I wanted to record to preserve whatever was going to happen between that officer and my fiancé, because he was not DUI,” Iniguez told the Times.
Iniguez has not yet released the video to any media outlets to back up his claims.
Still, KFI reported that Iniguez filed a personnel complaint against all of the officers involved with his arrest.
“This happens to people all of the time, all across the county … it’s been a traumatic experience knowing that an officer on a whim can place those cuffs on you,” said Iniguez, per the Times.
It remains to be seen which law enforcement agency will be responsible for investigating the incident, as the case presents concerns about a potential conflict of interest.
Iniguez, a former deputy district attorney in L.A. County, was a candidate to become D.A. but withdrew from the race in 2019 to serve as co-chair of Gascón’s campaign.
The L.A. Times reported:
After Gascón’s victory, Iniguez was elevated to serve as the office’s interim chief deputy prosecutor, effectively making him the second-in-command of the largest prosecutor’s office in the U.S. It was a decision that drew the ire of some longtime deputy district attorneys. Gascón recently called on his former chief deputy in San Francisco, Sharon Woo, to take over that post, and Iniguez moved into the chief of staff role.