L.A. County Sheriff’s deputy charged with assault, tampering

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with assault and evidence tampering stemming from an arrest she made in Lancaster two years ago, prosecutors said.

Nicole Bell, 27, is accused of deleting video footage from a witness’ cellphone after she arrested and allegedly beat Anthony Wilson in the back of her patrol car in July 2019, according to a statement issued by the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office on Wednesday.

“Tampering or destroying evidence tarnishes law enforcement and creates mistrust among the public,” L.A. County Dist. Atty. George Gascón said in the statement.

Charges of evidence tampering, assault by a peace officer and altering computer data without permission were filed against Bell on June 4, according to the district attorney’s office. It was not immediately clear when Bell’s first court appearance would take place or whether she had retained a defense attorney.

Prosecutors did not say what type of call Bell was responding to when the incident occurred. Jail records show Wilson was arrested on suspicion of a felony by deputies from the Lancaster station around 4:30 p.m. on July 30, 2019, and released about two weeks later. The only reason listed for his release was “probation.”

The Sheriff’s Department did not immediately respond to a request for comment. Attempts to contact Wilson were not successful.

The incident marks at least the sixth time an L.A. County sheriff’s deputy has been charged with a crime since March.

Late last month, Deputy Kevin Honea was charged with perjury in connection with a 2019 vehicle stop; he is accused of lying about where he found a firearm during a search of a car. The district attorney’s office launched an investigation into Honea after The Times asked questions about his testimony.

A day earlier, Deputy Daniel Auner was charged with murder and reckless driving stemming from an off-duty car wreck that claimed the life of his passenger last year.

Deputies Pedro Guerrero-Gonzalez and Noel Lopez were also charged last month with perjury and filing false reports in connection with a 2018 drug and weapons investigation. When prosecutors learned of the alleged misconduct, they had to dismiss criminal charges filed as a result of that investigation.

San Bernardino County prosecutors brought child molestation charges against L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy Daniel Whitten in March after he was accused of sexually abusing his underage niece, but the charges were not made public until a Times report last month.

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