Gascon’s Chief of Staff Arrested Drunk at McDonald’s

What Happened

According to the LA Times, Joseph Iniquez has been arrested for being drunk in public. He was in the passenger seat of a car with his fiance Dale Radford shortly before midnight on December 11. They were driving home from a wedding and had stopped in the drive-thru of a McDonald’s. The fiance made an illegal U-turn. Officers approached the car and asked if the fiance was driving drunk. They smelled the odor of alcohol. As teh officers attempted to speak with the fiance, Iniguez inserted himself into the conversation. Iniguez explained that he had been drinking and his fiance was acting as the designated driver. He said that any odor of alcohol is from him. The officer attemped to talk to the drive, Iniguez’s fiance, a second time. Iniguez interrupted again. He was asking question of the officer and began giving his fiance legal advice. The officer told Iniguez that he was not speaking to Iniguez. But Iniguez continued to question the officer about the stop. The officer asked the fiance to step out of the car so that he could separate himself from Iniguez and speak to the driver without interference. Although they did not ask Iniguez to step out, he did anyway.

Once Iniguez was out of the car, he became belligerent and threatening. He called the officer a “fuck-up.”

Iniguez had bloodshot eyes and was slurring his speech. He was “incapable of following simple directions.” He was not wearing shoes. Officers arrested him for public intoxication, a misdemeanor. He was taken to jail and released the following morning. The police released him from jail once he sobered up. Then, Iniguez threatened to put the arresting officer on something called a “Brady List.” Specifically, he called the officer “Brady” and said that he would see him again. The “Brady List” is a list of dishonest police officers. Being on this list prevents an officer from testifying in court. It renders them essentially useless for anything but desk duty. Officers placed on this list are often fired.

They did not present the case to the District Attorney’s Office, which Iniguez helps lead. Any criminal charges would be referred to the Attorney General’s Office due to the conflict of interest.

Iniguez ran for district attorney of Los Angeles County in 2020. He dropped out and joined the campaign of George Gascon. After Gascon won, Iniguez was moved from his low-ranking job as a DDA Grade 2 all the way past Grade 5 and up to Chief Deputy. The Chief Deputy is the second-in-command of the office. Later, he was moved to Chief of Staff, a job he still has today. Gascon’s spokesperson said he was aware of the incident and that “the district attorney has the utmost confidence in Joseph.”

Iniguez and Gascon. Credit: Twitter

Questions

There is video of the incident. Iniquez recorded video on his cell phone. The Tesla driven by his fiance also has a video system. Iniguez has both of these but has not released them to anyone.

Iniguez also oversees the Justice System Integrity Division at LADA. This is the office that prosecutes polices officers.

The arrest raises multiple questions. The first and most obvious question is whether Iniguez has the judgment necessary for his important public role. Although he is much less experienced than most deputy district attorneys in his office, he has some experience with police. He should know not to step into public if he is drunk. He should know that’s a crime. He should also know there is no exception to this law for people who are suspicious of police. Why would he choose to break the law?

The second question raised by this arrest is whether LA DA George Gascon showed good judgment by making this guy his second-in-command. Was it a good idea to take a low-ranking political rival up to the top of the office? Should the Chief Deputy spot be filled on merit or used as a political reward?

Finally, when our political leaders make such bad choices that they end up getting arrested, people might wonder about what other choices they are making on a day to day basis. What other bad choices haven’t we heard about?

Credit: Twitter
Credit: Twitter

Iniguez Sued the Azusa Police Department

Iniguez did not apologize. Instead, he said he has filed an internal affairs complaint against the arresting officer. Iniguez said the officer arrest him “on a whim” and that it was “a traumatic experience.”

Iniguez sued the Azusa Police Department on January 6. He alleged that the officers acted “with evil motive and intent” to violate his civil rights. He complained that the jail intake officer asked about his sexual orientation. He “declined to answer out of fear for his safety.” He complained that the jail was “dark, extremely cold, and isolated.” Also, “the cold was oppressive and injurious.” He was in jail for only four hours.

He claims that the police caused him “emotional and psychological distress. He suffers from sleeplessness and anxiety. He did not identify any physical injuries.

Iniguez is asking the Azusa taxpayer to pay him unspecified compensatory damages, including general and special damages, and punitive damages assigned to the officers involved.

Notes

The arrest report and civil rights complaint are online here. The arrest report lists the location of arrest as a McDonald’s, not a Chick-Fil-A as was originally reported.

The City of Azusa voted no confidence in Gascon on May 18, 2021. Councilman Andrew Mendez said Gascon’s directives create a revolving door for criminals. “If you’re a victim of a violent crime, the last thing you want to hear is that someone who hurt you is back on the streets,” he said.

Azusa PD did a press release:

Credit: Facebook

Azusa’s police union also put out a statement:

It has been made public that Joseph Iniguez was arrested by the Azusa Police Department for violating Penal Code section 647f, public intoxication. This was his only charge. He was booked, processed, and later released, but Iniguez wasn’t happy with that. Iniguez has decided to make a spectacle of his arrest by the Azusa Police Department. The problem is, Mr. Iniguez is refusing to relay ALL of the facts of the incident.

The facts of the case will eventually be released, and when this frivolous and retaliatory complaint is complete, I am most certain the officer will be found to have been in complete compliance with the State law, and Department policy. The officer that arrested Mr. Iniguez did so with full legal authority and without malice.

Mr. Iniguez is attempting to abuse his power as a senior member of the LA County District Attorneys Office, and using it to get him out of trouble. Fortunately for Mr. Iniguez, Azusa PD is currently being led by a Police Chief whom is cowering to Iniguez’ political pressure. The Chief will seek to please Mr. Iniguez and investigate a “by the book” arrest, instead of supporting his officer, who is a seasoned field supervisor, with several awards that he has received throughout his career for being exemplary and brave, including several awards by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) for his outstanding efforts to reduce DUI collisions in our community.

The Azusa Police Officers Association stands behind the officer that made the arrest, and for doing his job, unlike the department administration.

Mr. Iniguez and his office are quick to blame officers for wrong doing, but they refuse to look in the mirror to put any fault on themselves when they get caught so intoxicated in public they can no longer care for their own safety.

Here is Iniguez’s booking information:

Credit: Twitter, @MelG679

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