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Calif. Cops Accused of Kidnapping, Beating Witness

PASADENA - In a court declaration filed Thursday a man claims he was kidnapped and beaten by three Pasadena police detectives working a homicide case.

Jeremi Carr, 24, identified the detectives as Kevin Okamoto, Keith Gomez and William Broghamer.

None of the three officers could be reached for comment.

Pasadena Police Chief Phillip Sanchez said his office is "evaluating" Carr's claim.

The new allegations filed by Attorney Michael Kraut claim the officers beat Carr in an effort to coerce him into making false statements in an 2007 murder investigation into the slaying of Shawn Baptiste in Pasadena.

Kraut said Carr's claim supports earlier allegations of police misconduct against Okamoto and Gomez that are now being investigated by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department.

Sanchez said it would be "premature" to assume that the Sheriff's Department will investigate Carr's complaint.

According to Carr, Okamoto, Gomez and Broghamer stormed a Pasadena home in December 2007, grabbed Carr and took him against his will to Pasadena Police Department headquarters. There, Carr alleges, they attempted to beat him into agreeing with untrue statements related to the Baptiste murder investigation.

In his claim, Carr, a Pasadena resident, alleges he suffered injuries to his ribs, shoulder lower back and face as a result of the beating.

Carr, who was never placed under arrest and never charged with a crime, said he was "scared" and unsure about what the officers planned when they took him away.

"I didn't know what these dudes were about to do," Carr said. "I didn't know what was going to happen."

Pasadena-branch NAACP President Joe Brown, said he was disturbed by the most recent allegations. It's time for the officers involved to face a high "level of scrutiny up to and including administrative leave," he said.

Okamoto agreed to go on administrative leave following a complaint filed in April that alleged he failed to turn over exculpatory evidence in a criminal investigation.

Carr, who was not arrested or charged, alleges he was taken to police headquarters where the trio of officers initially handcuffed him to the wall.

Carr alleges Okamoto told him to give false statements that would implicate another person in the Baptiste case, which he refused to do.

He said he asked police for access to a lawyer 10 times, but his request was denied; Carr alleges that at one point Broghamer said, "I don't want to hear any of this lawyer (expletive)."

A beating followed, Carr said.

He alleged that Broghamer assaulted him while Carr's arms were handcuffed behind his back.

According to the complaint, Okamoto blocked the door; Gomez was not in the room during the alleged beating, but later returned.

The three detectives released Carr later that evening and, according to the complaint, he went to Huntington Hospital where he was treated for his injuries. On his release from the hospital, Carr filed a complaint with the Pasadena Police Department.

Kraut, who has peppered the Pasadena Police Department in the last two months with declarations and complaints alleging police misconduct, said the newest claim puts the credibility of Okamoto, Gomez and Broghamer into question.

Kraut represents Edward Damas, who was implicated in a 2009 bar brawl at Wokcano Restaurant in Pasadena that left one man injured.

Damas' first trial ended in a hung jury. He returns to court on Sept. 25.

Okamoto and Gomez played integral roles in the investigation into Damas' alleged role in the fight.

Progress in the Damas case has been slowed by what Pasadena Superior Court Judge Teri Schwartz said was proof that Okamoto failed to turn over witnesses contact numbers, transcripts and dozens of audio recordings on testimony. Kraut contends much of that material could exonerate Damas.

Okamoto said he opted not to turn over the material because he viewed it as "irrelevant."

In the past year, several complaints have been filed against at least nine Pasadena police officers for alleged violations of civil rights, falsifying police reports and questionable arrests.

Gomez has been named in the wrongful death lawsuit filed by family of Kendrec McDade against the city of Pasadena and members of its police department.

McDade was unarmed when he was shot March 24 in Pasadena by officers Mathew Griffin and Jeffrey Newlen. Gomez conducted much of the initial police investigation.

brian.charles@sgvn.com

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