The former coordinator of West Hollywood's Homeless Project has been acquitted of charges that she interfered with an arrest by a sheriff's deputy last October.
A Beverly Hills Municipal Court jury deliberated for about an hour last Friday before returning the not-guilty verdict for Rosemarie Pegueros-Lev, 36, according to Carol Watson, the attorney who represented her.
Pegueros-Lev was arrested and taken to the West Hollywood sheriff's station on Oct. 16 after a sheriff's deputy entered her West Hollywood Park office to arrest a transient suspected of public intoxication, according to sheriff's reports.
Scuffle With Deputy
Deputy Stanley Garrett, 38, said in his arrest report that he had to push Pegueros-Lev aside after she closed the door to the Homeless Project's office to keep him from entering. After the verdict was handed down, Pegueros-Lev told The Times that she had left the door ajar.
She said that Garrett held her in a headlock, then shoved her against a wall. She said she has undergone medical treatment for whiplash since the incident.
Watson said this week that her client has also suffered emotional trauma stemming from the incident.
"This woman has never been charged with a crime before. She is not a criminal type, she's an upstanding citizen," Watson said. "To have criminal charges filed against you causes numerous health problems and emotional distress . . . and being handled violently by a law enforcement officer is a trauma in and of itself."
Garrett reported that he pushed Pegueros-Lev aside in an effort to arrest Charles Edward Williams, 21, who had fled into the office.
'Blocked My Path'
"A female stood in front of the doorway and blocked my path," Garrett said in his arrest report. Garrett said he pushed Pegueros-Lev aside, entered the office and arrested Williams.
Williams and Pegueros-Lev were taken to the sheriff's station where Williams was held briefly, then released without being charged.
Watson said the charges against her client were unfounded.
"I think the deputy sheriff lost his temper and overreacted and found it necessary to justify his conduct," Watson said.
Lt. Dan Mauro, Sheriffs' Department spokesman and member of the city's Interdepartmental Task Force on Homelessness, said the department regards the arrest as lawful but would not comment further on the case.
Quit Her Job
Pegueros-Lev resigned her post with the Homeless Project on Feb. 13 because of medical problems that she said were caused by the incident.
Before her resignation, on Jan. 22, she filed a claim against the county for injuries sustained in the scuffle. Watson said that if the claim is denied, she may file a civil lawsuit on behalf of her client. The West Hollywood City Council Monday discussed ways to help the homeless and recommended that the program be moved out of West Hollywood Park and that the Sheriff's Department establish a written enforcement policy toward the homeless.
This recommendation, most city and law enforcement spokesmen agree, was precipitated by the Pegueros-Lev incident.
The new policy will be developed within the next 30 days and presented to the City Council at the end of March, according to Lloyd Long, director of city human services.