A Los Angeles police officer is being sued by the family of a woman after camera footage allegedly showed him fondling her corpse.
In a lawsuit filed on Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, officer David Rojas is alleged to have sexually molested Elizabeth Baggett, a young mother, after she was found dead in October.
Ms Baggett’s family are represented by attorney Gloria Allred, who described Mr Rojas’ alleged actions as “mean, vile, base, and contemptible”.
The lawsuit is filed against the city, Mr Rojas, and several unnamed parties. The family are seeking jury trial and unspecified damages, NBC News reports.
Ms Baggett died of an accidental overdose on 20 October, 2019, according to the medical examiner’s report.
Officer Rojas is alleged to have groped her after he and his partner had determined she was dead when they responded to a call to the home where she was found.
When his partner left the room, Mr Rojas turned off his body camera and the assault is then alleged to have taken place.
However, the camera still filmed the incident as it has a built-in two minute buffering to capture activity before being switched back on, according to a report by the Associated Press.
The footage was discovered during a random inspection of camera footage a month after the incident.
He was charged in December with one count of having sexual contact with human remains. After pleading not guilty he was released on $20,000 bail.
Officer Rojas remains employed by the Los Angeles Police Department, but is not on active duty, according to a police spokesperson. He has been with the force for four years. The LAPD is not named in the suit.
The LA Times reports that Jane Baggett, the victim’s mother, speaking at a news conference in in Ms Allred’s office, said: “I am infuriated that this man had so little respect for another human being, our Elizabeth, for not having the thought that she is someone’s daughter, granddaughter and mother.”
Ms Baggett’s teenage son, Preston Sertich, had wanted to work in law enforcement until learning about the incident. In a statement directed at Mr Rojas, he said: “All I can think is, ‘Why?!’ How could you do something like that? You had to know what you were doing was undeniably wrong and immoral.”
LAPD chief Michel Moore said in December: “This incident is extremely disturbing and does not represent the values of the Los Angeles Police Department.”