Detective's Misconduct Calls Hundreds of Cases into Question : On Our Watch Fellow officers long suspected a veteran detective in Antioch, Calif., was leaking operational police secrets to a drug dealer. For years, the department didn't act on their concerns. Even after the detective was finally fired in 2017, his record remained secret. In episode six of On Our Watch we look at the incentives departments have to investigate dishonest cops and what the secrecy around police misconduct means for criminal defendants who are prosecuted on their testimony.

The Brady Rule

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SUKEY LEWIS, HOST:

This episode is explicit. It contains offensive language and descriptions of criminal activity. It may not be appropriate for all listeners.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

JIMMY WISECARVER: I've been with the Antioch Police Department for approximately 24 years now.

MATT KOCH: I worked patrol...

WISECARVER: ...K-9 officer as well as a SWAT team member.

KOCH: ...And recently promoted to corporal within...

LEWIS: Police officers have a reputation for protecting each other - the blue code of silence, the thin blue line. It's like a fraternity. You don't rat your brothers out. But in this case, something's different.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

TONY MOREFIELD: OK. Obviously, you know Sergeant Santiago Castillo.

WISECARVER: Yes, I worked with him during my time as a patrol officer.

KOCH: Well, I mean, we were explorers together.

MOREFIELD: OK.

KOCH: We were community service officers working in the jail.

MOREFIELD: OK. So you've known him a long time.

KOCH: Known him a long time.

MOREFIELD: All right.

LEWIS: It's 2017, and this is an internal affairs investigation in Antioch, a suburban city east of Oakland. And it seems like these two guys, Corporal Matt Koch and Sergeant Jimmy Wisecarver, are ready to turn on another officer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: Santiago Castillo, as the primary investigator, had screwed that case up so much that as a punishment, the, at the time, lieutenant took that case from him and assigned it to me.

KOCH: I wanted nothing to do with him. I would not talk to him.

LEWIS: They're putting distance between themselves and a powerful detective in the department...

(SOUNDBITE OF MONTAGE)

KOCH: Sergeant Castillo.

WISECARVER: Santiago Castillo.

MOREFIELD: Sergeant Castillo.

LEWIS: ...Detective Santiago Castillo.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KOCH: I mean, we're police officers. We go out there to stop crime, and we don't influence crime.

LEWIS: Now, Castillo is under investigation because there's a rumor going around that the detective's been lying about how he's connected to a drug dealer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: I believe...

KOCH: ...Sergeant Castillo was providing...

WISECARVER: ...Information...

KOCH: ...Information...

WISECARVER: ...Inappropriately about police investigations...

KOCH: ...On investigations to his informant.

MOREFIELD: Can you think of any other instances where it's been alleged that Sergeant Santiago Castillo may have shared confidential or sensitive police information with anyone else?

WISECARVER: Yes.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LEWIS: Castillo didn't respond to our requests for comment, but Michael Rains, the head lawyer at the police union law firm that represented him, did.

MICHAEL RAINS: Our lawyer felt that the Antioch Police Department was less than fair and objective because they had such a strong belief that Sergeant Santiago had done something, you know, quite serious.

LEWIS: Castillo told investigators at the time he hadn't shared police information.

I'm Sukey Lewis. This is ON OUR WATCH, an investigative podcast from KQED and NPR.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LEWIS: There's this saying police officers have.

RAINS: If you lie...

KOTTO: If you lie...

RAINS: ...You die.

KOTTO: ...You fry.

LEWIS: If you lie, you die. The penalties for a cop who lies are supposed to be harsh. It's a crime if they put false information on police reports. If they're caught lying to internal affairs, that's it. They're supposed to get fired. That's because the word of a cop, the credibility of police, is the foundation of so much of the criminal justice system; the basis for a traffic stop, an arrest, testimony at trial that can send someone to jail. But that same thing makes those penalties harsh also creates incentives for police and prosecutors to protect officers' credibility, to hide lies and, sometimes, to pretend past dishonesty doesn't exist, even when it's other officers who report it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: That's a problem that is going to get somebody hurt.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KOCH: I mean, that's my life on the line.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: What upsets me then and what upsets me about that now is the potential danger of notifying a house full of criminals and criminal gang members that the police are on their way.

LEWIS: This is Sergeant Jimmy Wisecarver, 24-year veteran of the Antioch Police Department. He's worked patrol. He was on the narcotics unit for years. And in 2010, he was in the same unit as Santiago Castillo - the investigations bureau. Wisecarver was on a case trying to track down thousands of dollars in stolen solar panels.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: There was approximately $80,000 worth of solar panels that were stolen from this storage facility.

LEWIS: He got a tip that they were at this house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: We had conducted some surveillance, determined that, yes, through the open garage door, I could see these storage unit boxes stacked up in the garage.

LEWIS: Wisecarver says there were two or three people on parole who lived at the house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: It was a problem house that we were talking about, and it was a house that the police were dealing with on a regular basis. We decided to put together a parole search at the location.

LEWIS: On the day when everything is finally set to make this bust, Wisecarver and his team are approaching the house when a car speeds past them, headed the other way.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: Driving away from the house at a high rate of speed.

LEWIS: People come streaming out of the house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: You know, we started getting out of our vehicles to approach the house on foot, and the individuals in the house started coming out with their hands up.

LEWIS: Sergeant Wisecarver says he and his team recovered the solar panels that are still there. And that's when Wisecarver says one of the parolees tells the cops they knew the raid was going to happen. A woman in the house had gotten a call saying the cops are on their way. She was actually a relative of Castillo's, and she was in that car that Wisecarver saw speeding away. Wisecarver says, according to the parolee, the tipoff had come from Castillo.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: I was very upset about it.

LEWIS: Wisecarver says, by making that call, Castillo hadn't just given his relative a heads-up. He put officers' lives at risk.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: I made my opinion known to my sergeant who was on the scene. He told me that he would address it and deal with it, and I don't know if anything was ever done with it.

LEWIS: Wisecarver tells the IA investigator there was another case Castillo jeopardized by leaking information to a homicide suspect. Wisecarver says he reported Castillo to a supervisor, but he doesn't know if anything was done with that report either. Castillo wasn't fired.

SARAH MONPERE: I mean, I think the most surprising thing is just how much we didn't know.

LEWIS: Sarah Monpere is a deputy public defender in Contra Costa County, the same county where Santiago Castillo was a cop. She says clients represented by her office were put away on Castillo's word with his testimony and didn't know he had this history.

MONPERE: I think that that is what is just so shocking from a defense attorney perspective. Like, that shouldn't happen.

LEWIS: This is not supposed to happen because the D.A. is supposed to tell her and her clients if an officer like Castillo has a history of dishonesty. It's a rule called the Brady Rule, which comes from this really important Supreme Court case called Brady v. Maryland that happened back in 1963. The court held that district attorneys have to turn over any evidence that a defendant might be innocent. Now, this might seem kind of obvious, but it's really one of the foundations of a fair trial. And when it comes to police officers because their word alone can put you in jail, any evidence that undermines their credibility, like a history of lying, is Brady evidence.

But there's also a catch, and it's a big one. Because of the secrecy around police disciplinary and personnel files, in California, even district attorneys don't necessarily get to see those records. They've had to rely on police departments to let them know if an officer has a record of lying. Those officers all generally go on what's called a Brady list.

MONPERE: You know, the system relies on the police agency to be proactive, on the district attorney to be proactive and to them to be transparent with each other. And I think that while we assumed that it wasn't always happening that way, it does still feel shocking that there is so much that we just didn't know about. And we feel like we should have.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LEWIS: One of the things Monpere feels like she and her office should have been told about is a connection that Castillo had to a man he says was his confidential informant. That relationship would come to be the subject of an internal affairs investigation, allegedly jeopardize a major drug task force and bring down Castillo's career. But how they met seems innocent enough. Castillo says it was at his house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Let's talk about [BEEP].

SANTIAGO CASTILLO: OK.

LEWIS: The department redacted this man's name in the records.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: What do you know about him?

CASTILLO: He actually came to my house when we had a family barbecue, and that's kind of where I met him for the first time.

MOREFIELD: He came to your house? Where was this?

LEWIS: They've got a family connection. Someone in Castillo's family is dating this guy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: He is - well, he was at the time - dating my [BEEP]. Does that make sense?

LEWIS: Castillo remembers this day really clearly because he has a photo of it.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: We actually have a family picture of it. We all took it in the driveway with all of our families and all the kids.

LEWIS: And in the photograph is this guy he says he's just met.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: He's in it.

LEWIS: For the story, we're going to call this man the family friend.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: At what point did you learn that he was a drug dealer? And at what point did you assume he was a gang member?

CASTILLO: I knew him as [BEEP]. I didn't know him as [BEEP].

LEWIS: We don't know who this man is, but we do know the police didn't think he was just a small-time drug dealer. The internal affairs report says he bought and sold meth and other hard drugs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: Once I found out his nickname, that's when, like, everything start clicking. Like, oh, shit. This guy's a dope dealer, you know, downtown.

LEWIS: Castillo says after this barbecue, the family friend became his informant, passing him useful information about criminal activity in Antioch.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: I figured he's a downtown guy. And, you know, I love working downtown. And I figured, shit, since there's kind of a little connection here with the family thing, maybe he'll give me some info.

LEWIS: But years after that barbecue, Castillo ends up in the hot seat.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LEWIS: Because internal affairs thinks it was actually the other way around, that Castillo was the one passing on police secrets to the drug dealer.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Did it ever occur to you that [BEEP] could be playing you?

CASTILLO: It's always possible.

MOREFIELD: Giving you information to take out his competition?

CASTILLO: Oh, that's possible, absolutely possible.

LEWIS: Sergeant Wisecarver, the officer who says he got burned by Castillo on the solar panels case, tells the internal affairs investigator Morefield, anytime someone, especially a drug dealer, is passing you information, you've really got to look at what their motives might be.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Have you ever had a relationship in all of your dealings with these types of folks where you had a known narcotics dealer providing you information on a regular basis, asking nothing in return?

WISECARVER: No, I have not.

LEWIS: Wisecarver has been a narcotics detective. He's been on investigations. And he explains these relationships usually work something like this. Someone gets arrested for, let's say, drug possession, and they offer up information on a bigger crime like drug dealing in exchange for less jail time or some kind of leniency on their case.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: It is very structured. It's very clear-cut.

LEWIS: The district attorney has to approve any plea deal, and any information that's provided by the informant has to be vetted. And he says all of this is generally documented in a contract and kept in a file that's available to department supervisors.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: As far as you know, as you sit here right now, are you aware of any contract that Sergeant Castillo had with [BEEP] at any time?

WISECARVER: No, I'm not.

LEWIS: Wisecarver says he actually warned Castillo about using this guy in particular, the family friend, as an informant because the family friend had traded drugs for information and for money to two police officers who'd gone to prison for corruption.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

WISECARVER: And I told Castillo that I want absolutely nothing to do with - anything to do with [BEEP].

LEWIS: Morefield later checks. There's no informant contract for the family friend.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LEWIS: One day in the spring of 2017, the internal affairs investigator, Tony Morefield, also sets up a meeting with the family friend to see if he can get this guy to tell him what his relationship with the cop was really about. Morefield describes this meeting in detail in his report. It reads like something out of a noir detective novel.

He describes driving up to the Contra Costa County Fairgrounds in Antioch with an investigator from the DA's office. They're in an unmarked minivan. They park in the lot next to this big field. An SUV pulls up. In it is the family friend. He'd recently been arrested for, quote, "multiple felony crimes," and he's cooperating according to the records. As part of that, he agrees to go to this meeting. The records show when he pulls into that parking lot, all he knows is that he's going to have to answer some questions, not what those questions are about.

(SOUNDBITE OF VAN DOOR SLIDING OPEN)

LEWIS: Morefield turns on his recorder and pushes open the sliding doors of the unmarked police van. Family friend tentatively gets in. The investigator notes that this man has tattoos all over his body; specifically, visible gang tattoos on his left arm and on his lower legs.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: My name's Tony. This is Craig Ojala.

CRAIG OJALA: How you doing?

FAMILY FRIEND: How are you?

MOREFIELD: [BEEP] told you I'm with Antioch PD...

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah.

MOREFIELD: ...Right? I'll cut to it. The reason that we're reaching out to you today, we got some information that there's somebody that you work with...

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah, who?

MOREFIELD: Somebody you work with.

LEWIS: As you can hear, the family friend's voice was altered by the agency to protect his identity.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Probably given information to...

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah.

MOREFIELD: ...From time to time.

FAMILY FRIEND: (Unintelligible).

MOREFIELD: Santiago who?

OJALA: Yeah.

FAMILY FRIEND: Castillo.

MOREFIELD: Castillo?

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah.

MOREFIELD: OK. That's who I want to talk to you about today.

FAMILY FRIEND: OK.

MOREFIELD: OK? So first of all, how do you know Santiago?

LEWIS: The family friend says they met at that barbecue at Castillo's house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FAMILY FRIEND: Couple years back, [BEEP] said, let's go to a barbecue.

LEWIS: The agency redacted the name of the family friend's girlfriend. She told him the party was at a cop's house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FAMILY FRIEND: So I'm like, well, I'm not going.

MOREFIELD: Yeah.

FAMILY FRIEND: You know, I'm not going. I'm cool.

LEWIS: But he says once he got there, Castillo seemed like a cool guy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FAMILY FRIEND: And I meet him.

MOREFIELD: Yeah.

FAMILY FRIEND: And he seems like a cool guy. You know, he knows a lot of people I know. We start talking it up. And then...

LEWIS: He says he felt comfortable with Castillo. They knew the same people. And these were people he calls criminals.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: What do you mean it was a lot of people you know?

FAMILY FRIEND: Like, from the streets.

MOREFIELD: OK. OK.

FAMILY FRIEND: Because, like, he knows a lot of, you know, criminals.

OJALA: Yeah, yeah.

LEWIS: The family friend says he did provide information to Castillo from time to time.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FAMILY FRIEND: He's called me a couple times and asked me, oh, do you know where this person is at or have you seen this person?

MOREFIELD: Yeah.

FAMILY FRIEND: If I know about him, then I'll tell him, yeah, this is where he's at or...

MOREFIELD: OK.

FAMILY FRIEND: Know what I'm saying? Stuff like that.

OJALA: OK.

LEWIS: But not in exchange for anything, which, of course, isn't how this typically works at all. And the family friend says that Castillo has warned him in the past when the narcotics unit was targeting him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: He gave you a heads up that the narc unit was on you for something.

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah. Well, he just said that somebody - meaning a pedestrian or whatever - has my name...

MOREFIELD: Yeah.

FAMILY FRIEND: ...In their mouth, real tough - so basically just, you know, telling you guys that I'm selling drugs out of my house and stuff.

MOREFIELD: OK.

LEWIS: He explains that Castillo told him that someone who got arrested was telling the police that he was selling drugs out of his house.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

FAMILY FRIEND: Somebody got arrested and they're snitching on me, or they're giving up information. And...

MOREFIELD: So somebody was giving up information to the narc unit about you.

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LEWIS: He says about a month and a half after that initial warning, Castillo passed him information again and told him the narcotics unit was backing off. The family friend says he hasn't gotten any more specific police information from Castillo.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: When's the last time you talked to Santiago?

FAMILY FRIEND: It's been a couple months.

MOREFIELD: Yeah.

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah. I've seen him in traffic, like, driving by, but he hasn't stopped. I don't know why. Usually he does though. This time he hasn't.

MOREFIELD: You haven't talked to him recently.

FAMILY FRIEND: No.

MOREFIELD: But you've offered him good info in the past.

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah.

MOREFIELD: OK. And the only time that you can remember - you can think of - that he's ever even suggested anything to you was that one time?

FAMILY FRIEND: Yeah.

MOREFIELD: OK.

LEWIS: But investigator Tony Morefield doesn't trust what the family friend is telling him.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Think hard, OK? Think really hard about this. Any other instances, even if you think it's really small - like, just something real small that, you know, he gave you a heads up on anything.

FAMILY FRIEND: No.

LEWIS: The idea that any confidential informant would give up information and expect nothing in return is suspect to him, especially with this guy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Thank you. All right, good luck.

FAMILY FRIEND: Yep.

MOREFIELD: Good luck.

This is Lieutenant Tony Morefield. The date is 3-23-17. Time - approximately 14:00. Just concluded an interview with [BEEP].

LEWIS: A few months after meeting the family friend at the fairgrounds, internal affairs investigator Tony Morefield brings Castillo in to give his side of the story. And like all cops, whenever they're brought in for interrogation, Castillo has his lawyer with him, and he's been allowed to prep for the interview. Here's the explanation that Castillo sticks to during this conversation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: So he's just providing you information, asking for nothing in return.

CASTILLO: Yes, that's literally how it was.

MOREFIELD: Why do you think he would do that?

CASTILLO: I just think it was a family connection, to be honest with you.

LEWIS: Castillo says what the family friend told investigator Morefield at the fairgrounds was not true. He says he never warned him about an informant or that the narcotics unit was looking into him. He says if he did say anything like that, it would have only been to scare him straight. You know, you shouldn't be selling drugs because you're going to get caught - that kind of thing.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: I know I've told him in the past he better watch out - people think you're selling dope. But I don't think I've ever told him the thing I just talked to you about. Hey, they're looking at you. I don't think I've ever told him that.

MOREFIELD: You don't think so.

CASTILLO: No, I don't think so. If I did, there was no information to back it up. Let's put it that way.

LEWIS: It's clear in the internal affairs report that the investigator does not buy this explanation at all. Morefield wrote, this repeated rationalization was so incredible, it could only be construed as another willful attempt to deceive investigators.

(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

LEWIS: Those other attempts to deceive, according to Morefield, are when Castillo says he communicated with the family friend on his work phone...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: That would mean that the majority of the phone calls would be on the work phone.

CASTILLO: The majority of the phone calls would be on the work phone. Yeah.

MOREFIELD: So that's your answer.

CASTILLO: That's my answer, yes. The majority of the phone calls should be on the work phone, yes.

MOREFIELD: Would it surprise you to find out the opposite of that?

LEWIS: ...When actually, they mostly talked on his personal phone.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: Really?

MOREFIELD: Yes.

LEWIS: When he mischaracterizes how often they talked...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: I'd say 20, 25 times.

LEWIS: It was actually twice that. They talked about 50 times over a two-year period.

Investigator Morefield knew these things weren't true because the FBI analyzed Castillo's phones. And Morefield doesn't think that's all he's hiding.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Well, he's giving you a lot of information.

CASTILLO: Oh, yeah. He's giving - well, some of it was good. Some of it wasn't. But there wasn't nothing more to it than that.

MOREFIELD: So he's just providing this open-ended information to you.

CASTILLO: Yes.

MOREFIELD: OK.

LEWIS: So what exactly was the nature of Castillo's relationship with the family friend? Were they using each other? If so, what for? Investigator Morefield never gets to the bottom of it in the documents that we got. The internal affairs report doesn't look into any cases that stemmed from the family friend's information. We still don't know if any of his tips resulted in arrests or convictions. What we do know is that this relationship between Castillo and his family friend threw a wrench into a major interagency narcotics operation called Delta Breeze. The family friend - he was a target.

During his 2017 internal affairs investigation, investigator Tony Morefield brings in another one of Castillo's colleagues - Corporal Matt Koch. They'd worked together for years.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: As long as you've known Sergeant Castillo, have you ever - or do you have any knowledge of him sharing information with people outside of law enforcement?

KOCH: Yes.

LEWIS: Back in 2014, Corporal Koch was part of this major drug task force operating in Contra Costa County that was called the Safe Streets Task Force. And it included the FBI, the district attorney's office and local police departments

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KOCH: Became known as Operation Delta Breeze.

MOREFIELD: So this is a pretty big investigation.

KOCH: Correct.

LEWIS: Early on in the investigation, which lasted about two years, Corporal Koch says he gets a tip about Castillo's relationship with the family friend, and right away he knows it's going to cause problems.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: You had information that - from confidential informant information that specifically Sergeant Castillo was providing information to one of your targets of that medication. Is that correct?

KOCH: Correct.

LEWIS: Koch says he had to bend over backward to work around this issue.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KOCH: When we're doing surveillance or looking for potential stops, we couldn't do that in Antioch for a good portion of it because Sergeant Castillo was on duty or working and would be privy to the information

LEWIS: They did less surveillance in Antioch, Koch says. And when they do drug buys as part of the operation, they wouldn't log in with dispatch because they didn't want Castillo to know where they were or what they were doing,

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Do you think it caused any harm to the overall investigation?

KOCH: I think it did, yeah.

MOREFIELD: OK.

LEWIS: This is kind of stunning. The police are investigating a drug operation, and one of Koch's biggest worries is that one of their own cops is going to tip off the drug dealers.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: Did you ever notify anyone in your chain of command that the information concerning Sergeant Castillo and [BEEP]?

KOCH: Yes.

MOREFIELD: Why?

KOCH: It was a huge concern of mine because he was a target of my investigation.

LEWIS: He, meaning the family friend. Koch says he was worried that Castillo might tell the family friend that his phone was being wiretapped.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

KOCH: The organization could be shut down, and I have no case.

MOREFIELD: Did you ever have any concern that you may hear Castillo on any of those lines?

KOCH: I was concerned for that, yes.

MOREFIELD: OK. And who did you notify in your chain of command?

KOCH: Yourself.

MOREFIELD: OK.

LEWIS: Koch says investigator Tony Morefield, the person who is leading this whole investigation in 2017, is the same person Koch went to back in 2014 with his worries that Castillo might tip off the family friend, a target of this major interagency drug task force. After that 2014 complaint, nothing happened. So it really begs the question, why did the department ignore these internal concerns for the next three years?

In his internal affairs report, investigator Morefield says the allegations of confidential informants just weren't solid enough to act on. And if there was solid information on Castillo, he says he expected the FBI, which was part of that big task force, to catch it on their wiretap. In the end, that big Safe Streets Task Force doesn't go after the family friend. When federal indictments are handed down...

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #1: Two dozen people arrested in a massive gang raid in Contra Costa County. And now investigators say they believe some of the arrests are tied...

LEWIS: He's not among the dozens of people who get arrested. Eventually, the family friend does get arrested by local law enforcement, but the internal affairs report doesn't indicate if he was ever convicted of anything or served time. The rumors that had been swirling about Castillo for years don't die out. Those rumors reached the FBI and the sheriff. And it's at this point that the department opens an internal investigation. And that's where all this internal affairs tape is coming from. Now, to fully understand how Castillo finally left the department, I also have to tell you about something else the internal affairs investigation looked into. It's something totally unrelated to confidential informants or drugs. It involves a power drill.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: It was a badass drill, you know. It was a badass drill combo set.

LEWIS: The drill was evidence in another officer's case. And this officer left the drill out on a table in the property room instead of putting it back in the evidence locker. Castillo says he wanted to teach this officer a lesson about mishandling evidence.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

CASTILLO: I took the drill, and I put it under the sink in the evidence room, kind of just to prove a point - show him that stuff could walk away.

LEWIS: And then Castillo says he just forgot about it. The incident with the drill happens while he's already under investigation for passing information to a drug dealer. What's kind of amazing is just how thoroughly this drill thing gets investigated. There are hours of audio interviews, photos of the drill, surveillance footage. It's a full half of the paperwork for the internal affairs investigation.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

MOREFIELD: E13 - this is a picture of a DeWalt drill box. What did you do with the drill as soon as you found it under the sink? Did you call him before or after you got the drill? Did anybody else see you with the drill? Did you contact anybody else while you had the drill with you? Are you lying to us about anything regarding that drill right now?

LEWIS: So on the one hand, you've got these allegations stretching back years - of tipoffs, leaks to a drug dealer - and on the other hand, you've got this drill and they're given basically the same weight, the same attention. And I don't think that's by accident. As we've seen in other cases, it can be really hard to fire a cop. With the help of their unions and lawyers, they can appeal and often win at arbitration. But Castillo's mishandling of the drill was a clear and provable breach of policy. The internal affairs investigation doesn't find that Castillo's relationship with the family friend broke policy; it does find that he shared police secrets and lied to investigator Morefield. The department fires him. Castillo appeals but ultimately strikes a deal with Antioch. He agrees to drop the appeal and resign on the condition that the agency keeps all the information in this investigation a secret.

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LEWIS: So many of the serious allegations that are detailed in this internal investigation come from these two guys, Koch and Wisecarver. And when we first got these records from Antioch, they'd redacted the names of the officers and distorted their voices.

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WISECARVER: I believe...

KOCH: Sergeant Castillo was providing...

WISECARVER: ...Information...

KOCH: ...Information...

WISECARVER: ...Inappropriately about police investigations.

KOCH: ...On investigations to his informant.

LEWIS: Then just about five weeks ago, we won a legal argument with Antioch and got these names - Wisecarver and Koch. I started looking into them and found something that raised even more questions about this already maddening case. A civil lawsuit filed a decade ago alleged that Wisecarver and Koch were part of a group of corrupt cops and that they performed warrantless searches and seized property from people. In the end, the judge said there wasn't evidence that Wisecarver and Koch were part of any conspiracy, but he did find that the officers didn't have a warrant or probable cause to search a business where they found equipment for growing marijuana.

Antioch denied the allegations in court filings and eventually settled with the plaintiffs in 2015. A year later, Wisecarver and Koch were both promoted. Both of the officers declined to comment for this story. Reading through the heavily redacted records of the Santiago Castillo case, you get the feeling that you're only seeing a few small connections in this much larger web. What was the truth of Castillo's relationship with the family friend? Why didn't the investigation ever get to the bottom of it? Why didn't they dig into any of the cases where Castillo had supposedly used the family friend as an informant? There are all these questions that the investigation just kind of leaves hanging, the biggest of which is perhaps, why did they let Castillo stay on the force for so long?

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LEWIS: Investigator Morefield and the Antioch police chief declined my requests for an interview. In an email, the chief pointed out that the FBI conducted a criminal investigation into Santiago Castillo and never indicted him. The DA also didn't pursue charges. The chief did not respond to questions about what happened with the earlier reports of misconduct that weren't followed up on.

When it comes to allegations of misconduct, police departments have so much discretion. They can decide to investigate or not. They can decide to refer an officer for charges or not. And if they simply don't do an investigation, they don't create a record, a record that would have to be turned over to criminal defendants, a record that would be unsealed by Senate Bill 1421.

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UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #2: On New Year's Day 2019, a new state law went into effect.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: Media outlets across the state have been requesting...

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #4: ...Body camera footage and investigation records.

UNIDENTIFIED REPORTER #3: Not everyone is getting records back.

LEWIS: Antioch was one of the departments that stalled at first because of a lawsuit filed by the police union. But then, under orders from a judge, they released a trove of documents, and we found the records of this wild investigation into Santiago Castillo. So we at KQED published a story about it, and that story created these shock waves because nobody seemed to know about this misconduct, not the new DA and certainly not the public defender.

MONPERE: The contents of that internal affairs report and, you know, his alleged false statements, his suspicions about providing confidential information - wouldn't that information be something that you would want to know when you decide whether or not to believe him?

LEWIS: Sarah Monpere, the deputy public defender, says for all those years that the police department suspected Castillo was a dishonest cop, her office's clients had a right to know. Remember; under Brady v. Maryland, criminal defendants have a right to know if a cop has a record of lying so that juries can take that into account. Monpere's office wanted to find out if Castillo had put people in jail or in prison who shouldn't be there, so they asked the DA to go back through hundreds of Castillo's cases, going back more than a decade, to try and figure that out.

MONPERE: And it just makes you wonder, well, how many times has that happened? And, like, how many times has that happened in Antioch Police Department, and how many times has that happened in other police agencies, where there's an allegation made, and it's just essentially reported to an immediate supervisor or pushed to the side and kind of discounted?

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LEWIS: Now that the Right to Know Act has passed, DAs no longer have to solely rely on police departments to notify them about problem officers. The law has opened up at least some dishonesty records. They're public. Last year, I asked all 58 DAs in California if they were using the new law to get these records themselves. Only nine of them said they were. Two didn't respond. Forty-seven said no. Contra Costa County DA Diana Becton is one of them. Becton told me she will continue to rely on law enforcement to provide her with what she needs to comply with Brady.

DIANA BECTON: We have to, you know, try to work closely with our law enforcement. We have to rely on them to provide us with the information. But at the same time, we also impress upon them the seriousness of us receiving the information.

LEWIS: Becton says that she also supported a bill that was introduced last year that would have required DAs to keep a Brady list, a list of all officers with records of bias or dishonesty. They currently don't have to do this. It's just common practice. And the proposed law would have required that police departments give DAs a list of these officers every year. The governor vetoed it.

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UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: OK, 8:45 a.m. Department 31.

LEWIS: Then on July 17, 2020...

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UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: So we're calling the matter in the People v. James Maculler (ph).

LEWIS: ...After a yearlong review done by the DAs office of the hundreds of cases involving Detective Santiago Castillo...

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UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: Adding this matter on the calendar, its purpose in doing so is to move to dismiss, in the interest of justice, a misdemeanor count of reckless driving.

LEWIS: ...A Superior Court judge in Contra Costa County dismissed three old criminal convictions...

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UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: ...To recall the sentence and then to dismiss the matter in its entirety.

LEWIS: ...A resisting arrest case and two reckless driving cases.

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UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Is there anything else I can help your counsel with?

UNIDENTIFIED ATTORNEY: No, your honor.

UNIDENTIFIED JUDGE: Thank you.

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LEWIS: What these cases all had in common was that they depended on Castillo's credibility. Monpere says it was only three cases, but...

MONPERE: But to have the system, which is so rarely does, stop and acknowledge that, you know, justice wasn't done is really important.

LEWIS: Monpere says it's harder to undo the effects of the convictions on her clients - the criminal fees, the time spent on probation, the time spent in jail.

MONPERE: They lived through all of that and that there's no way to return any jail time that was done. And all those years of secrecy, they really harmed people in the criminal justice system and unjustly.

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LEWIS: We asked every agency in California for all their cases of dishonest officers since 2014. We still don't have that complete picture, but we have done an analysis of about 200 cases from 2014 through 2019. We found over a hundred officers lied on an official police report or in sworn testimony. In 70 cases, the officers' lies compromised an investigation or prosecution, and in 10 cases, the lies led to improper arrest or criminal charges. Some departments provided us with earlier cases, too, and so far, we can see there are at least 23 officers who are found to have lied in the past decade that are still working as cops today. They still have the power to arrest people and send them to jail.

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LEWIS: Coming up on the final episode of ON OUR WATCH, what starts as a pushing match on a crowded train on New Year's Eve 2009...

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UNIDENTIFIED INVESTIGATOR #1: How many people do you think had a video?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: There was a shitload of people out there that seen what happened.

UNIDENTIFIED INVESTIGATOR #1: Really?

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: There was, like, a hundred people.

UNIDENTIFIED INVESTIGATOR #2: So we'll see it on YouTube one day.

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: For sure.

UNIDENTIFIED INVESTIGATOR #1: (Laughter).

UNIDENTIFIED PERSON: Guaranteed.

LEWIS: ...For the first time, a police shooting goes viral.

PAM C: I don't think what came down would have happened had the main cop, which I always call, like, the alpha dog of the crew there, would have acted like an officer should have.

LEWIS: And the family of Oscar Grant is still searching for justice more than a decade later.

UNCLE BOBBY: Here we are, just realizing just how sad and sick the system is broken. We knew this, but this is just evidence. And it hit me harder than I expected.

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LEWIS: I'm Sukey Lewis, and this is ON OUR WATCH. This show is produced by me, Sandhya Dirks, Adelina Lancianese, Cynthia Betubiza and Nina Sparling. Huo Jingnan is our data reporter. Editing by Leila Day and our senior supervising producer Nicole Beemsterboer with help from Alex Emslie. We co-reported the first story about Santiago Castillo for KQED and the San Jose Mercury News with reporter Thomas Peele. The records highlighted in this podcast were obtained as part of the California Reporting Project, a collaborative effort of 40 newsrooms created after the passage of Senate Bill 1421 to investigate police misconduct and serious use of force.

Special thanks to Denise Rios and Pendarvis Harshaw for giving us your time and your ears. Liana Simstrom and Emily Hamilton are our project managers. Josh Newell engineered the show. Original Music by Ramtin Arablouei, who also composed our theme. Thank you to our legal team, including Micah Ratner and Rebecca Hopkins. And special thanks to Tenaya Rodewald, the lawyer who tirelessly fought with the Antioch Police Department for more than two years to get these records. And we could not have made this show without buy-in from the top. Thank you to NPR's Nancy Barnes, Neal Carruth, Anya Grundmann, Bob Little and Steve Nelson and KQED's Erika Aguilar, Holly Kernan, Ethan Lindsay and Vinnee Tong. Thanks for listening.

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