A San Diego police officer testified in court that he found a homeless man sleeping in a truck, a contention that led to the man’s conviction and fine for living in a vehicle. The problem: The officer was lying, and body camera footage proves it, our Sara Libby reports in a new story.
Two summers ago, Officer Colin Governski came upon Tony Diaz as he was leaving a public bathroom on Mission Bay. That’s not the story Goversnki later told in court: He said he saw Diaz sleeping in a truck and issued him a citation. Diaz was found guilty and fined.
Diaz’s attorney appealed the case, triggering a review by the city attorney’s office, which discovered body camera footage that contradicted the officer’s testimony but that wasn’t shown during Diaz’s court hearing.
The deputy city attorney who saw the footage filed a motion to toss Diaz’s conviction. But he never notified SDPD about the officer’s false testimony under oath. That only happened when Libby contacted the city attorney’s office during while seeking information for her story.
“I know the guy’s lying. And truly, my situation is, ‘What am I going to do?’” Diaz recalled.
An SDPD spokesman said the department is taking the issue seriously and conducting a review. Earlier this year, the city agreed to pay $15,000 as a result of a 2016 lawsuit in which Governski — the same police officer — was accused of harassing and illegally arresting a homeless Pacific Beach man.