LAPD Police Chief Michel Moore said the allegations are “extremely disturbing.”
The family of a woman who was found dead last year is suing Los Angeles and its police department, alleging that the officer who discovered Elizabeth Baggett’s body sexually violated her corpse.
Baggett’s family, says the Los Angeles Times, claims that footage obtained from Officer David Rojas’s body camera substantiates their claims.
Rojas, too, is facing criminal charges for desecrating Baggett’s body.
“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,” Elizabeth’s mother, Janet Baggett, said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.
“We, her family, have sleepless nights, if we are able to sleep,” she said. “I personally wake in sweats from the nightmares that haunt me about the events of Elizabeth’s death.”
“Days,” Baggett added, “are not much better.”
The Baggett family, adds the Los Angeles Times, is being represented by attorney Gloria Allred.
Allred, in turn, has said that Rojas’s actions were not just immoral, but go any and “all sense of human decency.”
As the Times recounts, the incident purportedly occurred on October 20th, when Rojas and another officer were investigating a report of a dead body in a Los Angeles residence. After locating Baggett’s corpse, Rojas’s partner returned to the patrol car to retrieve an item.
Once his partner left, Rojas switched off his body camera and began fondling Baggett’s breasts.
However, Rojas’s gross misconduct was uncovered by the detective charged with investigating Baggett’s death. Although Rojas had deactivated his body camera, the device was programmed to continue recording for two minutes after being intentionally switched off.
Baggett was quickly terminated and charged with a felony violation of California safety codes relating to sexual contact with human remains.
Allred said that the Baggett family was forced to grieve twice: upon learning that their daughter was dead, and that her remains had been violated by a Los Angeles police officer.
“The unexpected loss of Elizabeth has been devastating for this family, and learning that she and her remains have been so disrespected and violated has compounded the loss and inflicted horrific pain and suffering on her loved ones,” Allred said. “So many women are sexually abused during their lifetime, and now we learn that some are even sexually victimized after their deaths.”
The Los Angeles Police Department told the Times that it cannot comment on pending litigation. However, the city’s police chief, Michel Moore, had earlier expressed disgust with Rojas’s misconduct.
“This incident is extremely disturbing and does represent the values of the Los Angeles Police Department,” Moore said in a statement.