SACRAMENTO – A motion to suppress a questionable search of a vehicle—a defendant refused a warrantless search numerous times—wasn’t enough to convince Judge Tami Bogert here in Sacramento County Superior Court Tuesday to toss out the evidence.
As a result, the trial of defendants Joe Gallegos and Analiz Ortiz is set for Sept. 14. The trial was scheduled for last April, before COVID-19 suspended operations at the courthouse. Gallegos is still in custody and Ortiz is out on bail.
But Tuesday, Assistant Public Defender Pamela Jean Dominisse called a (not identified) Sacramento police officer to the witness stand and questioned his involvement in the arrest of two defendants suspected of possession of illegal substances.
Gallegos and Ortiz were charged with possession of a controlled substance while armed, possession of narcotics and specified non-narcotics, and possession of a controlled substance without a valid prescription on October 9, 2019 by the Sacramento Police Department in Sacramento.
The police officer testified that on the day of the arrest, he was bothered by Gallegos’ suspicious and constant presence in the area. He asserted that Gallegos’ appearance “bugs the sh** out of me.”
Gallegos attempted to explain to the officer that he was in the area where the arrest occurred, attending a vigil for the deceased who was “like family to him.”
Nevertheless, the police officer did not believe Gallegos’ explanation and told to the court that “people use vigils to cover up drug dealings.”
The police officer also detained other individuals around the car, which is where the two defendants found themselves at the time.
Public Defender Dominisse noted that within three minutes of the Sacramento police officer’s contact at this scene, he requested a search of Ortiz’ car, but she indicated that this would be an illegal search of her Honda Accord.
At this time, Gallegos told the police officers that he had his own car and identified his Chevy Impala. His car was placed 30 yards in front of Ortiz’s car. The police officer then handcuffed Gallegos and sat him down on the curb next to three other individuals.
Again, the police officer asked to search Ortiz’s car and she again stated that this was an illegal search. The police officer replied that “it’s kind of up to us.”
Ortiz repeatedly refused to allow a search of her car.
Since Ortiz was not agreeable to the police officer’s request to search her Honda Accord, the police officer decided to search Gallegos’ car first. Police found a standard-sized box of empty sandwich bags and another identical box with baggies in it.
After the search, the police officer returned to Ortiz to tell her that they are going to search her car, telling her he is “going to ask one more time nicely” or handcuff her and then take the keys. Ortiz again would not consent to the warrantless search, and asked, “What’s the reason for searching my car?”
The officer explained that Gallegos is on probation, but she interrupted, declaring that “this is my car and that’s his car.”
Ortiz repeated that this would be an illegal search and told the officers that “he was not in my car.” Then, the Sacramento police officer responded, saying, “We can take you to jail for resisting and obstructing our investigation.”
Even though the police officers did not find any illegal items in Gallegos’ Chevy Impala, they gave Ortiz one more opportunity to open her car willingly. She refused yet again, suggesting they go ahead and handcuff her while she is seated on the curb.
The officers looked for the keys to unlock the car and discovered that they were in Ortiz’s hands. At this point, they decided to handcuff the remaining individuals. Ortiz continued to state that this was an illegal search.
Ortiz disclosed that she is not on probation or parole, and again said that the officers “cannot do this,” to which officers responded, “We are going to do it,” citing probable cause with reference to the discovered baggies in Gallegos’ car.
Since the police officer found a purse-like wallet with the initials MK in the glove compartment of the Chevy Impala, he believed that Ortiz and Gallegos mutually owned the car. In addition, the police said Gallegos had been arrested while in the Honda Accord on a prior occasion.
An officer again announced that he was going to search Ortiz’s car and told her that “we can argue about it in court.” He then proceeded to take the keys from her hands and used them to unlock the car.
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