Oakland Cop Lied on Stand, and Bribed Witness in Murder Trial, Alameda District Attorney Charges

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By The Vanguard Staff

OAKLAND, CA – An Oakland police officer was charged with committing felony perjury when testifying in a murder trial in 2016 and preliminary hearing in 2014, according to Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Y. Price Tuesday.

Oakland Police Officer Phong Tran lied while under oath, said DA Price, in his 2014 and 2016 testimony. He has also been charged with felony bribery of a witness and attempted bribery of a witness.

“Because of the officer’s actions, the District Attorney’s Office will need to review at least 125 cases that Officer Tran investigated in his capacity as a homicide investigator. The Northern California Innocence Project have agreed to assist the office with the review of each case to assess the impact of Officer Tran’s misconduct on the justice system,” said the DA’s office in a statement.

“Lying and manipulating a witness are serious violations of the public trust, and Officer Tran will be held accountable,” said DA Price. “When the integrity of a conviction is at issue in one case, it raises questions in every other case that officer has investigated. The people of Alameda County need to have confidence in the criminal justice system, and these charges are a step forward toward regaining that trust.”

The DA said that Tran, during the 2016 trial for the murder of Charles Butler, who was killed in 2011, “did not previously know a key witness. However, after two men were convicted of the murder, Officer Tran admitted that he had known the witness, and that he had sometimes provided her with cash payments from his own money.”

Price said the supposed “key witness” was not really a witness, but was “asked by Officer Tran to testify against the two men. The officer and the woman had met in 2011, approximately six months prior to murder of Mr. Butler. Officer Tran’s payments to the witness were not disclosed to the prosecution or defense before or after the 2016 murder trial.”

The DA added the convictions of the two accused were vacated in 2022 as a “direct result of Officer Tran’s misconduct. Both men spent 10 years behind bars prior to their release.”

Price said Trans – still employed with the OPD – is “also charged with attempted bribery of another witness in the same murder case. The witness refused Tran’s requests for “help” in identifying a suspect in exchange for help in her son’s criminal case. The witness did not deviate from her original testimony.”

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