SAN DIEGO — The San Diego County Sheriff’s Department says it’s investigating a sergeant who an online group accused of trying to meet with a teen for sex.
Sgt. Luis Rios, who has been with the department for 25 years and worked at San Diego Central Jail, was placed on “administrative assignment” during the internal investigation, Lt. Amber Baggs confirmed by email. Baggs said the department learned of the accusations Friday evening and “took immediate action that night.”
“We take these allegations very seriously and will do a thorough investigation into the matter,” she wrote.
Rios was a subject of the gonzo documentarians at People v. Preds, a citizen group that investigates and posts videos about people who it accuses of misconduct. The group, which does not publicly identify its members or how many people are involved in the operation, uses “decoys” to pose as minors online and interact with adults.
People v. Preds claims that Rios talked online to “multiple decoys” and tried to meet up with people he believed to be underage, once last year and again last week. It posted photos to the organization’s Instagram that claim to show Rios taking a selfie in uniform. Then on Friday, it posted a video confrontation.
The clip, dated March 11, purports to show Rios in a San Diego-area parking lot where a decoy said he wanted to meet. The man holding a camera approaches a silver SUV and knocks on the window. A man rolls down the window and denies that his name is Luis when asked. The man says he is waiting for his order from McDonald’s. The video’s caption claims he was there for sex.
“You want me to involve the police?” the photographer says, after repeatedly asking to “have a conversation.”
“Why do I have your picture?” the man behind the camera continues, holding up a phone. “Is this you?”
“Where the hell did you get that?” the driver says. Asked again if it’s him, the man says: “It is me, but where the hell did you get that?”
The person recording the video continues pushing the driver about why he is in the parking lot. He claims the driver once tried to meet up with a 15-year-old boy from the internet, showing up in the same vehicle but not following through.
The driver starts to take off. The video cuts out and then picks back up with the photographer jogging behind the SUV as it turns onto a street and drives away.
Screenshots of text messages posted to the group’s Instagram story show a contact labeled “Luis 54 Decoy 15” discussing a meet-up with someone who claims they are 15 years old. The contact says they are nervous and that “you see all the time guys getting busted.”
In an archived audio snippet reviewed by the San Diego Union-Tribune, someone from the group claims the sergeant had a graphic discussion about meeting to have sex with one of the decoys.
In addition to clips on social media, People v. Preds publishes longer videos on YouTube for each person it confronts. Those videos sometimes include screenshots of online conversations and more purported evidence the group has gathered. As of Monday morning, no such video for Rios had been posted.