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Registered: 11/02/14
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Richmond officer found with marijuana in home won't face charges
    #762047 - 12/16/14 10:53 PM (3 years, 5 months ago)

RICHMOND -- A Richmond police officer found with marijuana in his home earlier this year likely won't be charged with a crime, authorities said, but his future on the police force is undetermined.

Veteran K-9 officer Joe Avila has been on paid administrative leave since September, pending an internal investigation, officials in the Richmond Police Department said.

The Contra Costa County District Attorney's Office has been investigating since the case came to its attention earlier this year but is not inclined to file charges, said Robin Lipetzky, the county's chief public defender. According to Lipetzky, the decision likely stems from evidence not strong enough to produce a conviction.

A search warrant affidavit obtained by this newspaper shows that Avila picked up a box containing about 4 to 5 pounds of marijuana from a UPS store on Nov. 25, 2013. Avila then radioed a dispatcher to say that he would file an incident report.

Avila never did so, according to the search warrant. Instead, in what several police sources have said is a violation of Richmond police policy, the marijuana ended up in his Oakley home instead of being placed into a department evidence locker.

The matter came to officials' attention after an officer was assigned in January 2014 to investigate Avila's alleged failure to write more than three dozen police reports, the warrant said.

As the investigation continued, internal affairs investigators informed Avila he would be placed on administrative leave for failing to file 37 reports, one of them the report of the marijuana he picked up at the UPS store. When questioned, Avila told investigators that he used 2 pounds of the marijuana to train his police dog in February 2014, and when pressed, he acknowledged there may be more in the trunk of his K-9 patrol car or at his house.

During their search, police found marijuana in the home.

According to police sources, Richmond police officers are required to follow strict guidelines about labeling, packaging and storing potential evidence and must file a police report before the end of their shift unless special circumstances dictate they don't.

Neither Avila nor his attorney have returned calls to discuss the case.

When his future with the department will be determined remains unclear. Calls to the city's human resources department were referred to the city attorney's office, which did not return a call Tuesday afternoon.


Signature this, ho.

Edited by SleepAid (12/16/14 10:56 PM)

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