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Gascón’s chief of staff arrested for public intoxication

Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón’s chief of staff was arrested by Asuza Police for public intoxication earlier this month. Joseph Iniguez, 36, was arrested shortly before midnight during a traffic stop on Dec. 11, according to L.A. County jail records. In an interview on Tuesday morning, Iniguez said the arrest was unjust, claiming officers detained him as punishment for filming the encounter. Iniguez said he and his fiancé were driving home from a wedding and had stopped at a drive-through restaurant in Asuza when they were approached by police.Iniguez said officers suggested his fiancé was driving drunk and ordered the fiancé out of the car. Out of concern for his fiancé’s well-being, Iniguez said he stepped out of the vehicle to film the interaction with police. “I decided to get out of the car, stand near the car, on the passenger side, and I began to record,” Iniguez said, adding that he was concerned because he did not believe Asuza Police do not employ dashboard or body-worn cameras. “I wanted to record to preserve whatever was going to happen between that officer and my fiancé, because he was not DUI.” Calls to the Asuza Police Department seeking comment were not immediately returned on Tuesday. Iniguez said he was never ordered to get back into the vehicle, but was ultimately arrested for public intoxication. He said his fiancé was briefly handcuffed and detained, but ultimately not arrested. L.A. County jail records show Iniguez was released early the following morning. The grounds for the release, according to the jail records, was a section of the state’s penal code that allows an officer to release a suspect if they were “arrested for intoxication only, and no further proceedings are desirable.”Iniguez said he has filed an internal affairs complaint against the arresting officer. “This happens to people all the time, all across the county … it’s been a traumatic experience knowing that an officer on a whim can place those cuffs on you,” he said.Alex Bastian, a special advisor to Gascón, said the office was aware of the incident.“The district attorney has the utmost confidence in Joseph,” Bastian said. “It’s a personnel matter so we can’t into the specifics at this time.”A former defense attorney and high school teacher, Iniguez was a young deputy prosecutor who first made a name for himself when he launched a longshot bid to unseat former Dist. Atty. Jackie Lacey in 2019. Iniguez — an LGBTQ candidate who was critical of Lacey’s treatment of defendants of color — eventually dropped out and joined Gascón’s campaign last year. After Gascón’s victory, Iniguez was elevated to serve as the office’s interim chief deputy prosecutor, effectively making him the second-in-command of the largest prosecutor’s office in the U.S. It was a decision that drew the ire of some longtime deputy district attorneys. Gascón recently called on his former chief deputy in San Francisco, Sharon Woo, to take over that post, and Iniguez moved onto the chief of staff role.

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