Prosecutors have charged a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy with lying while testifying about how a gun was discovered during a vehicle stop.
Kevin Honea, 33, faces one count of perjury for claiming under oath during a hearing that he discovered a stolen handgun in the front seat of a vehicle, when video evidence showed that in fact another deputy found the weapon in a bag that had been locked away in the trunk, the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office said. Honea is due in court Thursday.
“Lying under oath damages the credibility of law enforcement and creates doubt and mistrust by the public,” Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in a statement.
The charges came after The Times reported in January that Honea’s false testimony had forced prosecutors to drop the criminal case against the men, but that the Sheriff’s Department chose not to open a criminal investigation of Honea in the matter. Sheriff’s officials concluded Honea had not meant to mislead anyone, and chalked his misstatements up to sloppiness. He received a 10-day suspension.
Honea’s attorney, Bill Hadden, said previously that Honea is a well-regarded deputy, described by supervisors as reliable and hardworking, and has not been disciplined for other misconduct in his several years in the department.
The district attorney’s Justice System Integrity Division, which reviews allegations of police misconduct, opened a formal inquiry into the matter on the day in October that The Times asked about the gun case .
The case stems from a stop Honea conducted on a night in May 2019.
Honea, who was assigned to the South L.A. station, was on patrol in Gardena when he saw an Audi sedan leaving a Motel 6 parking lot, according to transcripts of his preliminary hearing testimony reviewed by The Times. He radioed for information on the license plate and discovered it was linked to a robbery reported to the Los Angeles Police Department. Three men were arrested.
At a court hearing a month later to determine whether there was sufficient evidence to prosecute the driver of the car and the man who had been riding in front passenger seat, Honea described opening a box in the front passenger’s seat area and finding various items, including the gun.
“It was like where your foot would be if you were sitting in the front passenger seat,” he said, when questioned by the prosecutor.
During cross-examination, Deputy Public Defender Alison Hudak asked: “Pertaining to the brown box that is in the front passenger seat, you opened that box, correct?”
“Correct,” he replied, adding that the gun was inside.
She asked soon after, “Did you personally recover the firearm?”
“Yes,” Honea replied.
The judge cited Honea’s testimony when she decided there was enough evidence for the case to proceed to a trial, noting that the firearm was within reach of the driver and at the feet of the front passenger.
Later, the defense team for one of the men obtained the video footage taken from a security camera at the motel.
The video, a copy of which was reviewed by The Times, shows Honea and other deputies looking inside the box that was in the front passenger’s seat several times over the course of about an hour and not finding a gun.
Shortly after 1 a.m., one of several deputies who had responded to the scene pulled a small box out of a bag that had been removed from the trunk of the car. Honea, who was on the phone, walked back toward the group as another deputy opened the box, and the group celebrated, patting each other on the shoulders.
Hudak had pressed the Sheriff’s Department to investigate Honea — who has been listed as a potential witness in criminal cases more than 240 times since he joined the Sheriff’s Department in 2015 — for perjury and filing a report with false information.