OAKLAND (CBS SF) — Alameda County District Attorney Nancy O’Malley said Monday that an independent probe conducted by her office has concluded that the Oakland Police Department’s investigations into the suicides of an officer and his wife were conducted professionally and thoroughly.
In a letter to Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf, City Administrator Sabrina Landreth and Acting Assistant Police Chief David Downing, O’Malley said her office determined that the Police Department’s finding that the deaths of 30-year-old Officer Brendan O’Brien last Sept. 25 and of his wife, Irma Huerta-Lopez, on June 16, 2014, were suicides was a “reasonable and appropriate determination.”
O’Brien allegedly had a relationship with a sex-trafficked child whose online alias is Celeste Guap. She is the daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher and allegedly had sex with several officers from Oakland as well as officers from other law enforcement agencies in the region.
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Schaaf asked the district attorney’s office to conduct an independent investigation of the deaths of Huerta-Lopez and O’Brien on May 13, after the sex misconduct scandal was made public.
Joining Schaaf at a news conference at City Hall that day, former police Chief Sean Whent, who resigned on June 9, said he was “very concerned” about Huerta-Lopez’s death and ordered “a very thorough investigation” that included senior homicide investigators to determine if it was a suicide or a homicide.
Whent said the investigation concluded that her death was a suicide, even though there were two gunshot holes at the couple’s apartment in the 8000 block of Greenridge Drive in the Oakland hills.
Whent said it’s “not uncommon” for people who die by suicide to fire two shots and gunshot residue was found on Huerta-Lopez’s hands.
Residue was also found on O’Brien’s hands, but police said that may have been a result of handling weapons as part of his duties as an officer.
Deputy District Attorney Timothy Wagstaffe, who wrote his office’s report on its investigation, said Oakland police sergeants Jason Andersen and Brad Baker interviewed Guap, identified in the report as Jane Doe, for more than two hours last Sept. 30 based on information in a suicide note that O’Brien left.
After O’Brien shot himself at his apartment on Greenbridge Drive last Sept. 25, responding officers found a two-page typewritten letter on the table in front of his body which “discussed his reasons for committing suicide,” Wagstaffe wrote.
Wagstaffe didn’t disclose those reasons, but said O’Brien’s letter “did not contradict any of Officer previous statements about Ms. Huerta-Lopez’s death” when officers questioned him about that matter.
Police investigators found out that O’Brien had failed to show up for training sessions that were held the five days before his death and found a sleeping aid medication at his home, Wagstaffe wrote.
He said that after Huerta-Lopez died, Oakland police investigators searched for witnesses and physical evidence at the scene, interviewed O’Brien for two hours and “employed interrogation tactics and asked for explanations of perceived inconsistencies.”
A deputy district attorney and a district attorney’s office investigator witnessed the interrogation of O’Brien, Wagstaffe wrote.
“The investigations into the suicides of Ms. Huerta-Lopez and Officer O’Brien met the high standard of professionalism that the district attorney’s office expects from all law enforcement agencies,” Wagstaffe wrote.
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