Suit: LA officer fondled dead woman, showed video to others

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A Los Angeles police officer accused of fondling a dead woman was sued Tuesday by her family, court documents show.

The lawsuit accuses Officer David Rojas of fondling Elizabeth Baggett’s breasts and “feeling her nipples, without limitation,” as well as showing the body camera video of it to others. The lawsuit alleges invasion of privacy, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligence, mishandling of human remains and other offenses.

“I am infuriated that this man had so little respect for another human being, our Elizabeth,” the woman’s mother, Janet Baggett, said at a news conference announcing the lawsuit.

“I personally wake in sweats from the nightmares that haunt me about the events of Elizabeth’s death,” Baggett said.

Rojas, who has been on the force for four years, remains employed by the Los Angeles Police Department. But he has been suspended, LAPD spokesman Officer Mike Chan said. The department did not have a comment on the lawsuit, which does not name the agency as a defendant.

Rojas allegedly touched Baggett’s breast while he was alone in the room with the corpse on Oct. 20. He and his partner had responded to the home where she died.

Rojas had allegedly disabled his LAPD body camera, but the act was caught on video when he turned it back on because the devices have two-minute buffering periods to capture what happens right before they are activated, according to a person briefed on the incident who previously spoke to The Associated Press. The person wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the case and previously spoke to AP on condition of anonymity.

Rojas was charged in January with having sexual contact with human remains without authority. He has pleaded not guilty and faces up to three years in state prison if convicted. He is out on bond and scheduled to return to court Sept. 15, online records show.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers, has declined to pay for Rojas’ legal bills. The officer’s attorney could not immediately be reached for comment Tuesday.

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