Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo is speaking out about the resignation of one of his officers following a perjury investigation.
Officials say Officer Christopher Lopez is under investigation for lying in a sworn police affidavit.
According to court documents, on October 24, 2016, Burlington police officer Christopher Lopez pulled over a vehicle for a routine traffic violation, a defective rear light.
A transcript of the footage taken from Officer Lopez’s body camera indicates upon initial contact with motorist Michael Mullen, Lopez called for back-up. When help arrived, the officer asked if Lopez “smelled anything”. According to the transcript, Lopez responded with, “No, I mean I can if I need to but I don’t like going that way if I can’t back it up.”
However, in the arresting affidavit, Lopez claimed he smelled “fresh marijuana emitting from the vehicle.”
“After reading the affidavit and watching the axom video it was a patent misrepresentation of the truth he lied in the affidavit,” said Chittenden County State’s Attorney Sarah George.
With the body camera video contradicting Lopez’s testimony in the arrest affidavit, police say Officer Lopez resigned after 2 years with the department.
The incident is calling into question other cases involving Lopez. George says a significant number of cases might have to be thrown out.
“We’ve reviewed all of them and we’ve pulled aside the ones we can’t prove without him and we’ll be dismissing them,” said George.
Incidents like this are calling into question the integrity of the Burlington Police Department.
Burlington Police Chief Brandon del Pozo says his department is right to be scrutinized.
“One of the reasons why we really made sure this was dealt with in what we feel was an appropriate way because it does call into question the integrity of the BPD,” said del Pozo. “It does give license to our critics and skeptics and we won’t tolerate that. We’re a good police force that does lawful work and doesn’t tolerate people who cross the line.”
Michael Mullen’s attorney, Leroy Yoder, says his client is a man of courage, who is risking months if not years of litigation to clear his name.
“He moved forward on this case knowing if he was convicted or the motions hearing didn’t go his way he could be involved in litigation for another year and a half or two years,” said Yoder.
While this case is listed as dismissed, Chief del Pozo says it’s a reminder that even his department isn’t immune to potential misconduct.
“Policing is like any other profession, It will never be completely free of misconduct and corruption. It’s going to happen as in any agency. It’s happened in agencies around here in the past as well as this one,” said del Pozo.
Local 22 reached out to Officer Christopher Lopez’s attorney Lisa Shilkret. She said in a voicemail, “I’m not going to make a comment about it, I don’t think it is appropriate for me or anybody else to comment on a pending investigation.”