Prosecutors hint at cover-up in gang cop’s crash

San Diego Police DepartmentSAN DIEGO — A drunken driving case against a San Diego police gang detective has triggered a criminal investigation into four other officers who came to the detective’s aid, it was reported Wednesday.

The broader probe came to light at a court hearing on Tuesday regarding the DUI case against Detective Jeffrey Blackford, according to U-T San Diego. The 11-year department veteran was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after he crashed his city-owned car into a roadside utility box in Allied Gardens around 12:50 a.m. Dec. 7. He pleaded not guilty and was placed on desk duty pending the outcome of his case.

Prosecutors tried unsuccessfully Tuesday to persuade Judge Peter C. Deddeh to compel the San Diego Police Department to turn over internal-affairs files, U-T San Diego reported.

Prosecutors alleged Blackford did not immediately report the crash and instead called two off-duty friends, Sgt. John Iammarino and Detective Daniel Caropreso, and they came to the scene. Iammarino then allegedly summoned two other sergeants, William Brown and Christopher Tivanian, and asked Tivanian to bring a preliminary alcohol screening device.

Court papers showed the formal investigation was not opened until sometime after 2:50 a.m., when another officer was called to the scene. Citing court records, U-T San Diego reported that Blackford had a blood-alcohol level of 0.09 — just over the legal limit of 0.08 — when it was tested at the scene more than three hours after the crash.

“We have reason to believe those specific officers (Iammarino, Caropreso, Brown and Tivanian) are potential criminal defendants,” Deputy City Attorney Steven Hansen told the judge, according to the newspaper.

But the judge denied the prosecutors’ request.

“I’m not finding that you’ve shown me cause to review the Internal Affairs report,” Deddeh said.