By on September 23, 2010

Being arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI) can cost a motorist thousands of dollars in court fines, insurance costs and attorneys’ fees. At least 79 accused drivers were notified last Friday that the police officer that charged them with drunk driving had likely falsified at least one piece of evidence. Sacramento County District Attorney Jan Scully threw out the cases after an investigation into the conduct of Sacramento Police Officer Brandon Mullock, 24.

Scully opened the inquiry into Mullock’s conduct after a deputy district attorney preparing a DUI case for trial watched a dashcam arrest video and noticed that the raw footage differed substantially from Mullock’s written account of the incident in a police report. The case was dropped in June.

“It is fundamental to our system of justice that prosecutors only proceed on cases where the evidence is trustworthy and was legally obtained,” Scully said in a statement. “The United States Supreme Court has said that the prosecutor should seek not simply to win a case, but to see that justice is done. The California Supreme Court has said that public prosecutors are charged with the important and solemn duty to ensure that justice and fairness remain the touchstone of our criminal justice system.”

According to Scully’s office, most of the defendants were convicted in a court of law despite Mullock’s legally unsound decision to detain the motorists, despite his misuse of preliminary alcohol screening and despite wild inaccuracies in his field interviews.

“Drunk driving is one if those crimes which is highly susceptible to falsifying evidence,” California DUI attorney Lawrence Taylor explained on DUI blog. “This is because the offense is highly dependent on the cop’s own observations and opinion. Typically, proving ‘driving under the influence of alcohol’ depends upon the officer’s testimony of such symptoms as weaving on the highway, odor of alcohol on the breath, flushed face, slurred speech, bloodshot eyes, poor balance, staggering when walking, etc. Usually, there are no other witnesses to contradict these ‘observations’; certainly, no one will believe the accused… The motive? Fulfilling quotas, overtime pay for testifying in court, promotions for high numbers of arrests, gaining awards in personnel files from MADD, etc.”

The district attorney’s office has provided each convicted motorist with documentation they can provide to insurance companies and employers to remedy some of the damage done.


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15 Comments on “California: Cop Accused of Faking DUI Reports...”

  • avatar

    Remedy the damage that was done? Seems like new trials are in order.

  • avatar

    And this, ladies and gents, is why I have absolutely no problem with:

    * Red light and speed cameras instead of officers
    * Cameras in police cars
    * People recording their interactions with the police

    I can test a machine empirically.  If it’s me against a police officer in court, however, I have no recourse if the officer chooses to lie.

    • 0 avatar

      However, recently a large number of red light camera tickets (and speeding I believe) were thrown out because the equipment was faulty (conveniently); don’t remember where.
      I think it’s easier to get a machine to “lie” than a person…alter the baseline, run the test, “Yes, it’s all within normal parameters.  Please pay your ticket, court fees, testing fees”.  Plus time off work.
      Although…a DUI is different — probably worth the extra costs not to have that on your record.

  • avatar
    Ken Magalnik

    Does anyone think the officer in question should face criminal charges? Does anyone think that he will?

  • avatar

    In front of the judge and the crowded court room I questioned the cop and his own testimony, his answers to my questions, proved him to be a liar.
    The judge threw out the charge.
    The cop hated me, despised me.
    The court room applauded me as I departed the court room.
    I was a very careful citizen until I moved from Modesto, California figuring my life may be in peril from a vengeful jack-booted thug lackey of the ruling class.
    But, hey… if the cop was a better more intelligent liar he assuredly would have won.

  • avatar

    I’m wondering what Officer Mullock’s motive for lying was.  Was he just trying to be a badass?  Score points with the police chief?  I just don’t get it.  And yes, he should be prosecuted.  I’m all for law enforcement and the military (I’m a veteran), but this dude’s ruined it for so many other hard working cops.

  • avatar

    I can only imagine that being a cop is an extremely difficult job and that most of them go into the profession with the best of intentions.  At the same time, though, as long as city and state governments use them as back-end revenue collectors because it’s too politically problematic to actually raise taxes they will be put in these situations and public perceptions will be skewed.

  • avatar
    M 1

    I used to have lunch with a lawyer who specializes in DUI cases. In fact, he was one of the go-to guys for cops who were facing a DUI themselves (which happens on a very regular basis, a revelation in itself, to me). I live in a larger-than-midsize city and he could rattle off the names of many, many cops who regularly falsified evidence, lied, and otherwise misrepresented the facts in varying degrees. There was no benefit to him in making these claims, it was purely conversational material between lunch buddies. And it was rarely worthwhile to actually pursue these fabrications in court — if you’ve ever had a DUI or been in close proximity to one, the stress, time, and expense is incredible without the added complexity of an actual trial. It is simply an understood fact among DUI attorneys that this happens. And they know exactly who does it. And it’s more common than most people realize.
    Make no mistake about it, DUIs are big business for any sizable municipality and it’s to their advantage to make persecution and prosecution fast, easy, and expensive.

  • avatar

    Of course the officer should be prosecuted.

  • avatar

    If the officer is guilty:

    Jailtime – one year for each falsified DUI case.

    Kicked off of the force with a lifetime ban on any employment in the public sector.  He should also forfeit any pension or benefits accrued.

    Finally, no protection from civil proceedings.  Those that he wronged should be able to sue him, and he can work the rest of his life to pay the judgments against him.

    THAT would be justice.

  • avatar

    I wonder if TS16949 certification for police (and DA’s) would improve the situation.

  • avatar

    The cases getting reversed and the records expunged is a good start.  However, depending on the victim’s profession, a DUI conviction can result in someone losing his or her job.   It’s difficult to assess the cost associated with something like this.  Certainly a civil suit is likely.

    At  the very least, these people had their insurance rates jacked up into the stratosphere or even cancelled.  I’m sure dealing with an insurance company to get rates brought back down is unpleasant enough… not to mention the improbability of having premiums reimbursed retroactively.  Then there are legal costs, social stigma, family issues. etc. 

    This is a huge issue with a host of potential damages.

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