OCDA Charges Former Fullerton Police Officer with Destroying Evidence

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Davis Barber
And the bad news just keeps rolling in for the Fullerton Police Department. Today the Orange County District Attorney's Office charged 41-year-old former FPD officer Vincent Thomas Mater with one misdemeanor count of destroying evidence relevant to the in-custody death of Dean Gochenour

On April 14, 2011 Mater arrested Gochenour on suspicion of driving under the influence and transported him to the Fullerton Police station. Mater, like other officers in the department, was wearing an FPD issued audio recording device on his person which would have recorded statements made by both parties. 


Gocehnour reportedly hung himself in his jail cell at 11:30 p.m. 

The OCDA's office, responsible for investigating most deaths occurring in police custody, says in the hours following Gochenour's death, Mater crushed his audio recorder and removed the circuit and mother boards. 

"The defendant is accused of destroying evidence that would have been relevant to the OCDA's custodial death investigation," a DA press release reads. 


But the department, besieged by bad press in the wake of the 37-year-old homeless man's death, has seen multiple officers accused of illegal conduct. Last May, officer Kelly Janeth Mejia was arrested for stealing an iPad in a Miami Airport. In September of last year, a federal judge blasted the department for its handling of allegation's that one of its officers,  Albert Rincon, was sexually harassing female detainees. Rincon was also accused of turning off his audio recorder, a violation of department policy. 

Mater is scheduled to be arraigned March 26 at the North Justice Center in Fullerton. To read the DA's full report of the custodial-death investigation of Gochenour, visit www.Orange CountyDA.com.

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