POSTED: Wednesday, March 2, 2011 - 6:44pm
UPDATED: Monday, March 14, 2011 - 8:39am
EL PASO - We now know why an El Paso police officer arrested for sexual assault was originally not eligible to become a cop.
As we reported, 29-year-old Zake Rivera was arrested last week. Chief Greg Allen has said the training division is looking at whether it was a mistake to hire Rivera to begin with. Records from human resources give us a clue to what the chief may have known that we didn't.
"It was kind of a brazen act," said former assistant police chief George DeAngelis. "You know it doesn't usually fit the profile of this type of misconduct."
Rivera is accused of forcing a woman involved in a domestic fight to perform oral sex on him in the back of his patrol car. DeAngelis says in his experience delving out discipline, officers involved in on-duty sexual misconduct usually do so in private - not in a residential area with the back door open, like Rivera is accused of.
"And usually involves an officer that is working by him or herself," DeAngelis said.
Records obtained by NewsChannel 9 show Rivera failed the written exam to become an officer. In his appeal to re-take the test, Rivera wrote "I have educated myself better by taking English test on definitions, grammar." But his appeal form says he took - and subsequently failed - the test in both January 2005 and April 2005. But the city's own rule states you have to wait at least six months before you can re-test. After we asked, the city now calls it a typo, saying Rivera only failed the test once, in April. DeAngelis says the nature of the allegations make him wonder if there could be more victims.
"It just seems like this officer may have done this in the past, and he may have some kind of compulsion," DeAngelis said. "You weigh the risks and you get confident the more you do this."
We also found out Rivera worked at El Paso Concrete Systems but was fired for having too many citations while training to be a driver. After he became an officer, his only complaint had been an accident in a marked car.