With officers still awaiting charges in one sex scandal, Oakland police face another

During an Oct. 20, 2016, press conference following the arrest of Oakland police officer Ryan Walterhouse, Mayor Libby Schaaf told reporters “I am very reassured that this misconduct came to light from the rank and file.” Photo by Tian Chenwei

During an Oct. 20, 2016, press conference following the arrest of Oakland police officer Ryan Walterhouse, Mayor Libby Schaaf told reporters “I am very reassured that this misconduct came to light from the rank and file.” Photo by Tian Chenwei

With two Oakland officers still awaiting charges in relation to a recent sex scandal, another Oakland officer was arrested and charged in a new sexual misconduct case.

The Oakland Police Department (OPD) arrested Officer Ryan Walterhouse at the police administration building on Wednesday night. Walterhouse is being charged by the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office with two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one misdemeanor count of engaging and agreeing to engage in prostitution. These charges are unrelated to the recent scandal over police interactions with a woman known in press reports as “Celeste Guap.”

According to a declaration of probable cause filed in Alameda County by the OPD, Walterhouse befriended a prostitute identified as Jane Doe in the document. A criminal complaint from the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office indicates Walterhouse paid Doe for sex on October 1 and then provided her with classified information about OPD prostitution operations twice. On October 13, he texted her and “asked her how she was going to repay him for the information he gave her regarding Oakland Police Department undercover operations targeting prostitution activities,” according to the document.

“Yeah, you might want to stick to the online thing right now. … cause they all over the lower numbers right now,” Walterhouse is alleged to have told Doe during a phone call on October 13. The following night, he allegedly texted Doe, “you out, don’t be right now.” The documents indicate that Walterhouse also allegedly confessed to police department employees that he gave Doe secret information to keep her out of jail.

Early last month, as the result of a separate investigation, Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley announced that she will charge five Oakland officers and two officers from other departments in relation to a sex scandal involving a teenage woman known publicly as Guap, and now identified in court documents as “J.A.” The charges are not the same for each officer, and they range from oral copulation with a minor to engaging in a lewd act in a public place. Two Oakland officers are facing charges of misusing a police database to run the names of people Guap knows. But a search of court records indicates that the charges still have not been filed. One of those officers resigned before O’Malley announced the charges.

Three successive police chiefs resigned or were fired as a result of the scandal, and Oakland City Administrator Sabrina Landreth has been in charge of the department since June. The city is currently searching for a new police chief.

At a press conference Thursday afternoon, OPD Deputy Chief John Lois said another officer in the department alerted supervisors to Walterhouse’s alleged misconduct, and Lois “immediately directed a criminal investigation be initiated.” He said the department’s investigation found that Walterhouse had engaged in the alleged actions.

“The vast majority of the men and women who have been sworn to protect and serve the citizens of this great city do so with the utmost integrity, professionalism and respect,” Lois said. “Unfortunately, as much as we put in place measures to prevent misconduct from occurring, the reality is, that possibility always exists.”

He said no other officers are being investigated, and the department has no reason to believe there were any other officers involved.

Lois was joined at the press conference by several other OPD officials, along with Landreth and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf.

“I am very reassured that this misconduct came to light from the rank and file,” Schaaf said. “We are committed to making this police department the best in the country.” She added that the department will “ensure that anyone who does not deserve to wear the badge of the Oakland Police Department is handled accordingly.”

Landreth also said that she is encouraged that another officer stepped forward to report suspicions of wrongdoing. “Although there is much more to do, I have been very proud of how seriously the men and women of the Oakland Police Department take this work, and I appreciate the commitment to restoring public trust by being accountable and open to change,” she said.

OPD Deputy Chief Danielle Outlaw said the department is in the process of reforming its training and hiring practices. She said the department has doubled the number of officers tasked with performing background checks, from four to eight, and it has instituted a policy that all applications for employment must be reviewed by the acting chief of police. According to Lois, Walterhouse was hired in March, 2014.

Waterhouse pled not guilty Friday at his arraignment at the Hayward Hall of Justice. His attorney, Michael Cardoza, told reporters gathered outside the courtroom that his client is innocent.

“They’re accusing him of a felony when he was actually doing his work as a policeman,” Cardoza said. “We’re ready to take these charges head-on.”

During the same hearing, OPD officer Giovanni LoVerde, who is charged with oral copulation with a minor in connection to the Guap scandal, pled not guilty. Cardoza, who is also representing LoVerde, said that his client never met the woman.

OPD Officer Brian Bunton, who faces charges of obstruction of justice and engaging in prostitution, had a pretrial hearing earlier in the day at the same location. At the hearing, the judge scheduled Bunton to return for another hearing on December 9. Bunton’s attorney, Dirk Manoukian, told reporters that during an OPD Internal Affairs investigation, his client “admitted to and took responsibility for his actions,” but would not go into detail about what those actions were. Bunton pled not guilty to both charges at his arraignment in late September.

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