Officer Kevin Okamoto, of the Pasadena Police Department, has agreed to go on paid leave after the Pasadena Police and the Los Angeles County Sheriff's departments launched separate investigations into alleged misconduct by the former detective. After a 2009 bar fight, security guard Edward Damas had criminal charges brought against him after he tried to break up the fight. Officer Okamoto failed to turn over evidence to the prosecution.
Michael Kraut, attorney with The Kraut Law Group, is the defense attorney for Edward Damas in this case. Prior to being a defense attorney, Mr. Kraut was a Senior Prosecutor with the LA County DA's Office and used to handle cases specifically for this officer and his team.
During the trial, Officer Kevin Okamoto testified under oath the he was deciding what was relevant to turn over and he failed, purposely to turn over exculpatory evidence, covered under the Brady Law, which requires police to turn over evidence to the prosecution. He said he purposely held it and hid the evidence. Mr. Kraut says that it is not up to a police officer to decide what is and what is not relevant. The evidence in this case was a witness statement from the bar fight.
As the first trial ended in a hung jury, they are waiting for a retrial. In the meantime, Mr. Kraut received a phone call from the former head of the Pasadena Police Department CSI unit, who is now retired, saying that Officer Okamoto told him previously not to turn over exculpatory evidence to the defense. Officer Okamoto was corroborated by his own department.
In addition, one of the witnesses who testified said that three weeks before the trial, Officer Okamoto called him to try and change his testimony to harm Damas, but this witness refused.
The DA office will be making a decision whether to move forward with the case.
Mr. Kraut opened the Kraut Law Group in order to assist those under investigation, or charged with an offense in Los Angeles, San Bernardino Riverside and Orange Counties. He is also a featured legal commentator with the Legal Broadcast Network.
For a related story, click here for the Pasadena Star News story.