The suicide of Oakland police officer Brendan O’Brien has prompted an investigation that three police officers committed a sexual crime, Police Chief Sean Whent revealed Friday.
As ABC News reports, the police chief did not go into details of how O’Brien’s suicide in September led to a sexual misconduct investigation facilitated by the internal affairs division.
The allegation of sexual misconduct is the latest controversy to hit the Oakland police department, which remains under federal scrutiny. In March, a district judge expressed his concerns over the internal affairs division investigation, saying it could undermine the department’s ability to show a strong commitment towards accountability and sustainability.
— KRON 4 News (@kron4news) May 14, 2016
City officials revealed Friday that the Alameda County District Attorney’s office was also on the verge of conducting its own investigations in the suicides of O’Brien, who killed himself roughly a year after his wife allegedly also ended her life.
The three police officers being accused have been placed on administrative leave. The police chief again declined to say who the officers were, agreeing only that investigations were still underway to get to the bottom of things.
“The allegations in this case are extremely troubling…we want to ensure that all of our employees are of the highest moral character and conduct themselves professionally, not only on duty, but off duty as well.”
The Huerta-Lopez family is of the opinion that their daughter and sister was killed by O’Brien, making the point that no gun residue was found on her hands and that there were no signs of a struggle or bruises on her body. Whent said he had his own doubts that Irma Huerta-Lopez shot herself, but would wait on the department’s investigation to report their own findings.
In recent times, the department has been caught up in a whirlwind of reforms and lawsuits after word got out that a notorious group of police officers called “The Riders” had been accused of framing and beating up suspects for more than 10 years. The department was told to make 51 specified reforms in a span of five years.
— Oakland California (@oaklandCaRR) May 14, 2016
In March, U.S. District Judge Thelton Henderson, who is in charge of the implementation of the reforms, promised to use his judicial authority to ensure that the case of sexual misconduct against a minor was “properly investigated and appropriate follow-up actions taken.”
According to several sources within the department, O’Brien had been in a relationship with the underaged girl named Celeste Guap, and in a suicide note had left information about her being sexually molested by other officers.
In the suicide note, O’Brien had confessed that he was struggling with post-traumatic-stress disorder from being consistently under suspicion over his wife’s death from the police department, Huerta-Lopez’s family, and even his own relatives. He said he had been drinking heavily when he was on patrol and in uniform.
But the Huerta-Lopez family refused to be saddened by the death of the 30-year-old police officer. According to a coroner’s report, Irma Huerta Lopez died of a single gunshot to the head, but two bullets had been fired from the suicide gun and one bullet lodged in the wall of the apartment. The gun, O’Brien’s off-duty Glock pistol, was found with two casings near Irma’s dead body.
“Why were there two shots if she killed herself,” her sister asked.
The sister said the coroner never gave the family an autopsy report and officers at every turn downplayed the possibility of it being a homicide, including not testing O’Brien’s for gun residue even when none was found on the hands of his wife who had allegedly committed suicide.
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[Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images]