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Gascón files battery, false imprisonment charges against LASD lieutenant

Gascón files battery, false imprisonment charges against LASD Lieutenant
Gascón files battery, false imprisonment charges against LASD lieutenant 07:13

Update 9/16/22: The District Attorney's Office confirmed to CBS2 today that it declined to file charges against Fuchs in January, 2022, "primarily due to the lack of cooperation from the alleged victim."  After our recent inquiry, the DA's Office said senior managers reviewed the previously "unwatched" surveillance footage and decided to file charges against Fuchs "based upon the totality of the evidence."  

With only two days left on the statute of limitations, District Attorney George Gascón has filed battery and false imprisonment charges against a Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department lieutenant — a year after the incident happened.

It all began on Sept. 17, 2021, at the Matsuhisa Restaurant in Beverly Hills. According to a police report obtained by CBSLA, the LASD's newly promoted narcotics Lieutenant Howard Fuchs got into a "heated dispute" with a woman at the famed restaurant. 

As she left on foot, he allegedly got into his white SUV and used "Find My iPhone" to find her on the street. When he did, Fuchs allegedly admitted "he grabbed [the woman] by her arms."

Another woman driving by told police she saw a man "shove/tug the female from her upper body." However, she added it was hard to see. Someone on the sidewalk also told police Fuchs "grabbed the woman aggressively all over" then "back up away from [her] multiple times." The witness then pointed the traffic cameras above the scene to the police. 

"She doesn't want to be touched," said Gascón. "He's grabbing her. She's trying to walk away."

Beverly Hills police were the first to see the video and in their report, a sergeant, who watched the video, "observed Fuchs aggressively grab [her] over the span of approximately 10 minutes."

"It's clearly aggressive, there's no question it was aggressive," said Gascón. 

The Beverly Hills Police Department believed it was enough to arrest and book Fuchs for battery and their report goes on to say Fuchs admitted he had been "drinking alcohol" and was in "possession of a firearm."

"Certainly," Gascón said when he was asked if Fuchs committed a crime. "There's enough to allege that the misdemeanor of domestic violence occurred."

However, back in January, an assistant D.A. declined to file charges in the case, pointing out that there were no injuries, claiming there were no weapons and saying the victim did not want to prosecute. 

"She was not given all the information we have now," Gascón said. "There was a lot of video that wasn't provided to her."

Gascón added that the District Attorney's office did not have the video for nearly a year and had only recently received it. 

 "We are a city of transparency," said Beverly Hills Mayor Lili Bosse. 

Beverly Hills has refused CBSLA's repeated requests to see the video taken from a traffic camera on a public street. When asked about the potential release of the video, Bosse said she did not "know the legal element" surrounding that.

"We have a policy not to release it," said Beverly Hills City Attorney Larry Weiner.  "And in this case, it's the privacy of the victim," 

When asked to release portions of the video that do not contain the victim, Weiner said the policy was in place for "many reasons."

"We have a policy for many reasons and our policy is not to release video that's part of the investigation," he said. 

Sources said LASD did receive a copy of the video but it is unclear who actually saw it. 

While Fuchs was initially suspended from duty, former Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon is now claiming she was forced to reinstate him without a proper internal affairs investigation, despite the allegations of "domestic violence" and "drinking alcohol" with his "firearm on him."

"It's one of the incidents she blew the whistle on," Limon's attorney Vincent Miller said. "But then the Sheriff orders him back to work."

Afterward, Limon was demoted several ranks and her attorney believes the Fuchs case was part of the reason. He also believes it was vaguely referred to in an LASD document that said she was "insubordinate" and "made false statements."

"She was not providing accurate information to the Undersheriff and to myself," said Sheriff Alex Villanueva. "And there is a discrepancy in what she was telling us and her subordinates."

Miller claimed his client was "railroaded, smeared, defamed" and had "her career destroyed." He called on BHPD to release the video. 

"BHPD should release it so they're not accused of being part of a coverup," Miller said. 

Gascón said the situation concerned him and his staff.

"It's concerning to us," he said. "It's concerning to us the video wasn't presented immediately. It's concerning to us the incident occurred in September, but the case wasn't presented until January." 

The District Attorney added that he wanted to wait for more information before accusing BHPD of covering up the incident. 

"We want to get more information," Gascón said. "I don't want to imply that there was any inappropriateness, but I want to look into it a little more." 

When Villanueva was asked about a possible cover-up he said "This is BHPD, we did not do the investigation." 

"We did nothing," he added.

Beverly Hills Police Chief Mark Stainbrook said the department did everything they were supposed to and claimed the video was sent to the D.A.'s office months ago. However, he said they were sent as links that eventually expire. 

On Thursday, LASD said Fuchs was relieved of duty pending the outcome of this case.

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