A Los Angeles police officer who was captured fondling the breasts of a dead woman while on duty is being sued by her family, their attorney Gloria Allred said on Tuesday. The officer got fired from his job after the incident, which took place last year. However, the family has decided to sue both the officer and the city of Los Angeles in a bid to get justice for the victim.
The victim's mother held a press conference in Los Angeles on Tuesday, wherein she said that she was shattered by the incident and now wants justice for her dead daughter. The lawsuit also accuses other members of viewing the video footage of the officer caressing the breasts of the dead woman.
Rarest of the Rare
Elizabeth Baggett, 34, was found dead in her apartment in Los Angeles on October 20, 2019. She reportedly died of a drug overdose. However, it wasn't clear at that time. After responding to a call, officer David Rojas, 27, arrived with another deputy at Baggett's apartment. When Rojas' partner left the room, he turned off his bodycam and allegedly started fondling the breasts of the corpse and even touched her nipples.
However, Rojas, a four-year veteran with Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), didn't know that bodycams continue recording for two minutes after being switched off and his actions got recorded. It is still unclear what prompted the other officials of LAPD to check his bodycam footage but he was fired after the incident came to light. Rojas pleaded not guilty to sexual contact with human remains without authority. "It's just horrific to think that a woman even at her death is being sexually molested," said Allred. "It's just the height of disrespect."
Family Shocked and Traumatized
Baggett's death wasn't initially known to her family. Later, they learned about her death and also saw the incriminating footage of Rojas fondling Baggett's corpse. "Learning... that the video of her alleged sexual molestation has been viewed by others sickens [the family] and is deeply disturbing," Allred said on Tuesday. Rojas, who was removed from duty in late 2019, has been charged with one felony count of having sexual contact with human remains and was released on a $20,000 bond.
Baggett's mother Janet said she felt "shock and disgust" when officials told her of the sick abuse. Baggett also has a six-year-old son Preston, who Janet described as a talented artist but has been in shock since learning about the incident. On Tuesday, Allred filed the lawsuit on behalf of Baggett, Preston Sertich, and his father Michael Sertich in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging invasion of privacy, the mishandling of human remains and the infliction of emotional distress.
However, Rojas isn't the only one to be sued by the Baggett family. Allred said that other members of the department shared the bodycam footage of the disturbing incident, which is even more shameful. The family is also suing the city of Los Angeles. At the time of Rojas's arrest, the police union had said that it would not defend him during his criminal proceedings.