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Police officer acquitted of false report on traffic stop

SANTA ANA, Calif. (AP) — A former Southern California police officer has been acquitted of filing a false report about a traffic stop that said a driver had consented to a vehicle search that allegedly turned up drugs.

A jury deliberated for about four hours before finding Dillon Avila not guilty, the Orange County Register reported Wednesday.

Prosecutors said Avila and his then-partner with the Anaheim Police Department stopped a driver in April 2018 and searched his vehicle, even though the driver didn’t consent. Drugs were found and the driver was charged, but body-worn camera footage later showed the driver didn’t agree to the search, the district attorney’s office said.

Prosecutors dismissed the charges against the driver in 2020.

Defense attorneys argued that it was unclear who wrote the police report, Avila or his partner, Samuel Silva. The defense said any errors in the report were unintentional.

Michael Schwartz, Avila’s attorney, told the Register his client was thankful and happy for the verdict.

“My client is a very honest person. To have such an attack on his integrity was a major blow to him,” Schwartz said.

Silva did not testify during Avila’s trial. Avila’s attorney in court filings said Silva was “disciplined” in connection to the allegedly false police report. Anaheim police confirmed that Silva is still with the department, but couldn’t comment on any possible discipline.

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