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Witness testifies truck never hit LAPD officers
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- A woman at the scene the night two Los Angeles police officers claim they were hit by a pickup truck containing two gang members testified Friday the truck did not touch the officers.
Veronica Polanco, 23, took the witness stand in the corruption trial against four former LAPD officers. She told the court the truck "was gonna hit an officer, but it swerved and kept going."
Raul Munoz, the driver of the pickup, was charged and convicted of assaulting a police officer, and served time in prison for the offense. His conviction was later overturned when former LAPD officer-turned-informant Rafael Perez told investigators that his fellow officers, Sgt. Brian Liddy and Officer Michael Buchanan, framed Munoz by writing false police reports.
The incident arose when anti-gang CRASH officers began making arrests at a gang meeting in 1996 as they searched for a suspected murderer.
Liddy and Buchanan claimed the injuries they suffered when the truck hit them warranted a trip to the hospital. Earlier in the week, prosecutors showed jurors photos of Michael Buchanan on a hospital gurney. Buchanan's report on the incident claimed he was struck so hard by the truck that his head broke the windshield. A third defendant, Sgt. Edward Ortiz, is accused of signing the allegedly false report.
Defense attorney Paul DePasquale questioned Polanco about inconsistencies in her testimony, which differed from statements she gave police in June. In court, she testified she saw an officer jump out of the way of the truck. But in June, Polanco told detectives that "the fellow who jumped back reacted really fast and might even have fallen getting out of the way." She said, "If someone would have gotten hurt, I would have seen it."
Further testimony from Polanco is expected when the trial resumes Monday morning.
The key witness in the trial, Rafael Perez, agreed to testify about alleged officer misconduct in the LAPD anti-gang units in exchange for a lenient sentence for stealing six pounds of cocaine from the police evidence locker.
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