Hearing for former Oakland officer postponed because of evidence issues

Ryan Walterhouse. 

The preliminary hearing for a former Oakland police officer who is charged with two felony counts of conspiracy to obstruct justice and one misdemeanor count of engaging in an act of prostitution was postponed today after prosecutors belatedly discovered new evidence in the case.

The hearing for former officer Ryan Walterhouse, 27, was set to resume today with testimony by Oakland police Lt. Tony Jones but was delayed after Jones said he had a video that prosecutor Sabrina Farrell previously had told Walterhouse's lawyers didn't exist.

The video is of text messages that were on the phone of the prostitute who Walterhouse allegedly was involved with when police interviewed her in October 2016.

Walterhouse was charged with the felony counts later that month for allegedly tipping her off about police crackdowns against prostitution activity in East Oakland.

Walterhouse, who resigned from the Oakland Police Department last December, is also charged with one misdemeanor count of engaging in an act of prostitution for his alleged involvement with the prostitute in 2016.

Walterhouse's lawyers, Jyoti Rekhi and Michael Cardoza, reacted with outrage after discovering that Jones had a video of the woman's text messages.

"It appears that the prosecutor (Farrell) had no conversations with the witness (Jones) about all the evidence more than a year into this case," Rekhi said.

Cardoza said, "I'm concerned because we ask about evidence and she (Farrell) says it doesn't exist."

He asked, "How are we to trust that we have everything that exists?" and alleged, "These are (evidence) discovery violations."

Alameda County Superior Court Judge Kevin Murphy said, "It's problematic that we're talking about this in the middle of the preliminary examination. It puts us in a difficult position."

Murphy then postponed the hearing until Monday so prosecutors can make a copy of Jones' video for the defense to review.

The prostitute testified against Walterhouse when his first preliminary hearing began on June 2.

But on June 26, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Thomas Rogers dismissed the two felony counts against Walterhouse when prosecutors refused to disclose the name of a confidential informant who brought the matter to the attention of Oakland police, saying that the informant's safety was at stake.

However, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office re-filed the felony charges against Walterhouse on July 10.

Walterhouse's second preliminary hearing, which will determine if there's sufficient evidence for him to stand trial, began in late September and has met on intermittent dates since then.

The prostitute testified on June 2 that Walterhouse gave her his phone number and solicited her for sex after he met her while he was patrolling a high-prostitution area in Oakland last year.

She said that on the morning of Oct. 1, 2016, after Walterhouse had completed his overnight patrol shift, she and Walterhouse met at a motel room in Castro Valley.

She said Walterhouse fondled her after he paid her $200 but they never had intercourse or oral sex.

But she said Walterhouse stayed in touch with her and warned her about police undercover sting operations on International Boulevard on Oct. 13 and Oct 14, 2016.

She said Walterhouse later texted her that she "owed" him, which she assumed meant that he thought she owed him for tipping her off.

Walterhouse's case is unrelated to a sexual misconduct scandal involving the teenage daughter of an Oakland police dispatcher who allegedly had encounters with numerous officers from Oakland and other local law enforcement agencies.

The charges against most of the officers who were allegedly involved with then teen have either been dismissed by judges or by the Alameda County District Attorney's Office.