SAN JOSE, Calif. (KRON) — The San Jose Police Department is reeling from four separate scandals involving on-duty and off-duty officers.

One officer was arrested for allegedly masturbating in front of horrified crime victims inside their home. A second officer is suspected of showing up drunk to a baby kidnapping crime scene.

A third officer is accused of offering a methamphetamine pipe to a police informant in exchange for information. In a fourth incident, an rookie police officer suffered a fatal fentanyl drug overdose after returning home from a party.

Mayor Sam Liccardo said the slew of scandals show “a drumbeat of serious transgressions by young officers in SJPD.  We have a serious problem in SJPD.”

Liccardo added, “These officers do not represent the very high moral and professional standards upheld by 99 percent of the hardworking SJPD officers protecting our community today. Nothing angers a good cop more than a bad cop. I know that the overwhelming majority of officers in this department are furious as I am.”

Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen said the masturbation incident was especially “disturbing.”

“Law enforcement officers respond to our homes to help crime victims, not terrorize, traumatize, and create new victims,” Rosen said.

Masturbating in front of victims

Officer Matthew Dominguez, 32, was arrested Thursday on indecent exposure charges. Police Chief Anthony Mata escorted him out of the police station.

“Last week I said that when an officer violated the public’s trust or engages in criminal conduct, I would personally walk that officer out the door. Today I did it,” Mata said Thursday.

The charges stem from an April 21 incident when Dominguez and two other officers were called to a San Jose family’s home. The family had called 911 because a mentally ill family member had shown up at the home in violation of a domestic violence restraining order.

Officer Matthew Dominguez

“Officer Dominguez began by speaking with the family’s 23-year-old daughter. Officer Dominguez took interest in her and continued to interact almost exclusively with her,” prosecutors wrote in court documents.

“She gave Officer Dominguez her brother’s potential location, which prompted Officer Dominguez to direct the other two officers to leave and attempt to locate the brother,” prosecutors wrote.

When Dominguez was alone with the daughter and her mother, he unzipped his pants.

“(The mother) saw Officer Dominguez unzip his pants, place his hand inside his zipper and began rubbing his crotch. Simultaneously, the daughter saw him rubbing his crotch area,” prosecutors wrote.

Dominguez then exposed himself to the mother and daughter, according to prosecutors.

The two women fled from the house.

San Jose police wrote, “The shocked and scared victims fled and reported the officer’s behavior to two male relatives nearby.” One of the male relatives alerted Dominguez’s two fellow officers about what had just happened.

Dominguez’s body worn camera was apparently activated throughout the incident.

Dominguez will be arraigned on a misdemeanor indecent exposure charge on June 22 in the Hall of Justice. If convicted, he could face a year in jail and be placed on the sexual offender list for 10 years. Dominguez is currently on administrative leave.

Meth pipe bribe

Another SJPD officer is under investigation for allegedly offering a methamphetamine pipe to a woman in exchange for information.

The officer’s name has not been made public, and the incident happened in December of last year.

Mayor Liccardo said, “This officer’s conduct amounts to a severe violation of the ethical and professional standards of this department. Chief Mata appropriately responded by placing this individual on leave. I’m confident that the (SJPD) will do whatever is legally necessary to ensure he won’t again wear an SJPD uniform.”

Drunk on duty

The most recent scandal involves an officer who was allegedly intoxicated while he was at the crime scene investigating a baby kidnapping on April 25.

The officer was allegedly drunk while he was assigned to canvass the neighborhood to find witnesses of the baby kidnapping. The officer raised the suspicions of an FBI agent who was also at the crime scene, and the agent reported his suspicions to the SJPD.

“I apologize to the family of 3-month-old Brandon Cuellar. When any officer … tarnishes the badge, we all suffer the consequences,” Police Chief Mata told reporters at a May 3 press conference.

Mata said, “I will not make any excuses for the criminal conduct of our police officers. I expect officers to come to work and serve and hold them to the highest standards. We believe in duty, honor, integrity. I will not tolerate inappropriate behavior.”

The SJPD launched an internal affairs investigation on April 26 and the officer was placed on administrative leave. The officer’s name was not released.

SJPD Assistant Chief Paul Joseph said, “We are empathetic to people who are struggling with substance abuse, and we offer many opportunities for the officers and employees to get help. But if they chose not to seek that help … there will be consequences.”

Deadly drug overdose

A rookie police officer, De’Jon Packer, was found dead in his Milpitas home on March 13. A coroner determined that Packer died from a fentanyl drug overdose.

Packer, 24, reportedly overdosed at home just hours after he attended a party. He was formerly a star football player at San Jose State University.

Mata said police officers are not immune to issues that plague society as a whole, including substance abuse. Studies have shown that on average, a police officer deals with or is exposed to a traumatic experience three times for every six months of service.

Packer
SJPD officer De’Jon Packer suffered a fatal fentanyl overdose at home. (Image courtesy SJPD)

Packer’s death is still being investigated by SJPD’s internal affairs unit.

Mayor Liccardo is pushing for the SJPD to require mandatory, random drug and alcohol testing of all officers, as well as revamping the police department’s recruiting and hiring process for new officers.

“I know that Chief Mata is taking these incidents very seriously, and we agree that we have much work to do. In the days ahead, I look forward to the specific, actionable steps the department will be taking to improve screening and backgrounding of new applicants to the police academy, as well as supervision and investigation of officer misconduct,” Liccardo said.

“We will continue to push forward with changes to the contract with the SJ Police Officers Association for random drug and alcohol testing of all officers,” Liccardo said.

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