By Chuck Strouse
By Scott Fishman
By Terrence McCoy
By Ryan Yousefi
By Ciara LaVelle, Kat Bein, Carolina Del Busto, and Liz Tracy
By Pepe Billete
By Ryan Yousefi
By Kyle Swenson
On August 18, 2004, Fernandez arrested Rodriguez for cocaine possession with intent to sell. Rodriguez, a pot-bellied fellow with a handlebar mustache, claims Fernandez kicked down the front door of his apartment to arrest him. "He took $700," Rodriguez says, pointing to the heel marks he claims Fernandez made on the door. "On the affidavit, he claimed he caught me outside the fence and that he found me with three rocks."
Rodriguez says his first defense lawyer recommended he accept a withhold adjudication and avoid trial for the first offense. "It was my word against Fernandez," Rodriguez concedes.
In January of last year, Fernandez arrested Rodriguez a second time on coke possession with intent to sell. "He busts down the door again, gun drawn, asking me where the drugs were," Rodriguez says. "I didn't have anything. He turned over everything in my apartment and didn't find anything. But he still took me in. He said I had two bags of coke and four rocks."
Five months later, Fernandez popped Rodriguez a third time. He served ten months in the county stockade and received two years of probation for the latest offense. He was released in early March. "He knew by arresting me a third time I would serve time," Rodriguez accuses. "If I had gotten out before he was arrested, I'm sure Fernandez would have arrested me again."
Mesa a bald, shirtless gent with large eyeglasses was also raving mad about Fernandez. "One time he took my $280 for the rent," Mesa accuses. "Another time he took $340 from a check I had just cashed and the meds for my heart."
He says Fernandez used a propane gas tank to bust down his door and then threw all the food in his refrigerator to the floor. "He could have blown us all up!" Mesa screams. "El es un maricón!"
Hartman dismissed Rodriguez and Mesa as just another pair of convicted felons with an ax to grind against his client. "These people are just a bunch of opportunists who are jumping at the chance to win a free ride," Hartman says.
As the second-to-last addition and only unmarried member of the crime suppression team, Joe Losada was having a difficult time jelling socially with his coupled partners before he and Fernandez were arrested. According to sworn statements by squad members Benavides, de Armas, Leon, and Villalobos, Losada kept to himself and rarely attended team gatherings outside the station.
"He would tell us that, you know, he didn't really like kids, so he never really hung out with us," Benavides informed during his February 22 deposition. Villalobos, who at times partnered with Losada, told prosecutors he considered the young detective nothing more than a "co-worker."
De Armas, however, revealed he did not like working with Losada, a Saint Brendan Catholic School alumnus who wasn't afraid to use his menacing muscular figure to subdue subjects. De Armas didn't even like to lend his county-issued unmarked vehicle to him. "I hate the way he talks to people," de Armas said. "Some people, like, give you weird vibes. I just don't like riding with him."
Prior to his arrest, Losada was also accused of beating Derrel Burnett, a 32-year-old man the detective arrested April 24, 2004. Sometime after 9:00 that night, two undercover detectives observed Burnett receiving money from several people in exchange for narcotics, according to Losada.
After being confronted by authorities, Burnett allegedly ran down the street to 8464 NW Fifth Ct. Losada and Sgt. Alexander Ramirez caught up to Burnett in front of his mother's house at NW 85th Street and Sixth Avenue. Ramirez allegedly grabbed Burnett from behind and attempted to arrest him. However, Burnett pulled Ramirez's arm and flipped him over his shoulder, Losada wrote. Ramirez landed face first on the pavement. Burnett then began to choke Ramirez.
Losada stated he struck Burnett in the face with his police radio so he would let go of Ramirez. Two other officers had to help Losada pull Burnett off Ramirez. Burnett then allegedly began punching Losada in the face and chest. Eventually the cops were able to subdue him.
Burnett's relatives and friends disputed Losada's version. Aireus Johnson said her pal Burnett didn't do anything to provoke Losada, but that the officer grabbed her friend and slammed his head onto the hood of a car. Using his walkie-talkie as a weapon, Losada repeatedly hit Burnett in the face, Johnson charged.
"They did Chi Chi real bad," Johnson says of Burnett during a recent visit to her house. "His eye was swollen shut. There was blood all over. They even wanted to Taser him even though he kept telling them he had a bad heart."
Bernice Johnson, Aerius's mother, claims Losada and other officers on the scene kept ordering them to go inside their house. At one point, Losada drew his pistol and aimed it at her, her daughter, and several other people who questioned why they were manhandling Burnett, Bernice says. "They were chasing the people who were taking pictures with their camera phones," Bernice recalls. "They shined their flashlight into the lens of one boy who was trying to film everything. We couldn't even stand in our yard, couldn't stand on the porch."