Prosecutors say ex-W. Sacramento police officer targeted vulnerable victims

Published: Thursday, Feb. 13, 2014 - 11:42 pm

Sergio Alvarez was a rogue cop cruising West Sacramento’s streets on the graveyard shift, prosecutors said Thursday, targeting down-and-outers, hookers and drug addicts for sex.

The sexual assault trial of Alvarez, the former West Sacramento police officer facing numerous allegations of raping and kidnapping woman while on duty in 2011 and 2012, is winding to its end in Yolo Superior Court. Closing arguments began Thursday and are expected to conclude today.

Alvarez, 38, faces 27 counts, including rape and oral copulation by use of authority and aggravated kidnapping. He has been jailed since his arrest in February 2013 following a five-month investigation and a Yolo County grand jury’s indictment. He remains in Yolo County custody in lieu of $26.3 million bail.

Yolo County Deputy District Attorney Garrett Hamilton painted a disturbing, often graphic portrait of the former lawman, who joined the West Sacramento force in 2007. Hamilton detailed how Alvarez preyed upon the women in the hours before dawn.

“They have no power. They’re the down-and-outers, the vulnerable fringe of our society. They were selected by Sergio Alvarez,” Hamilton said. “They’re disenfranchised people. They wouldn’t report and they wouldn’t be believed if they did.”

Alvarez knew this, Hamilton said, his uniform, his badge, his baton all carrying the implied threat of a trip to jail.

Alvarez sat quietly, his hands clasped, in a dark suit, blue shirt and a tie. His attorney, J. Toney, later acknowledged the nature of the case against Alvarez, saying to the jury, “Everyone of you must feel cheated by Sergio Alvarez” for the alleged crimes on duty. “That this is an embarrassment to the West Sacramento Police Department has to be a staggering understatement. Their anger has to be palpable.”

Toney asked jurors to set aside “all the anger and frustration you have to feel toward a police officer who has done these things” as they head into deliberation.

The alleged assaults started in October 2011 and into September 2012, prosecutors allege. Women were forced into sex acts outside and in the back of Alvarez’s patrol car, DNA evidence showed, with the alleged victims driven to back alleys and remote, wooded lots.

Alvarez scoured warrant lists before picking up one of his victims, the better to have cause to stop her, Hamilton said. He picked up others under the pretense they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol before telling them how they could stay out of jail. Alvarez gave methamphetamine to another as a Valentine’s Day gift, Hamilton said.

“ ‘It seemed like he knew I had a warrant,’ ” Hamilton said, quoting one of the alleged victims’ testimony. “He did know you had a warrant,” Hamilton told the jury. “It’s pretty creepy.”

Another woman held in the back of Alvarez’s patrol car said she begged to be taken to jail or let go, Hamilton said.

Neither happened. Instead, she was driven to a remote location where, Hamilton said, “She does what she feels she has to do.”

But Hamilton said it was early Sept. 23, 2012, that Alvarez “really did a number on himself.”

Hamilton said Alvarez had been dispatched to a West Sacramento Target store, but dispatch records showed he checked one of his alleged victims for warrants before clearing the call at the Target about 15 minutes later.

Hamilton said that and earlier testimony proved Alvarez had a woman in the patrol car and never responded to the department store, 3 miles from his location.

The following day, Sept. 24, a woman told another patrol officer she had been sexually assaulted by a uniformed officer on the graveyard shift, West Sacramento police said later. Alvarez was placed on administrative leave, and West Sacramento and Sacramento police launched the investigation that ultimately led to Alvarez’s arrest.

Call The Bee’s Darrell Smith, (916) 321-1040.

Read more articles by Darrell Smith

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