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Defense for Accused Mom Seeks Internal Police Files

VENTURA COUNTY NEWS

Crime: Attorney challenges trustworthiness of officer who interviewed Narinder Virk after she allegedly tried to drown her two young children.

September 22, 2000|CATHERINE BLAKE | SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Seeking to discredit an Oxnard police officer who interviewed a woman shortly after she allegedly tried to drown her children, a defense attorney asked a judge Thursday to force the Police Department to turn over personnel files that the attorney says will show the officer is not trustworthy.

Superior Court Judge Rebecca Riley declined to rule on the matter, saying a decision should be made by the judge who has seen the files and already ruled in Narinder Virk's criminal case.

Deputy Public Defender Christina Briles said she was confident of being able to obtain the personnel file of Officer Rehan Nazir, who questioned Virk in her hospital bed hours after she and her two children were pulled from Channel Islands Harbor on Jan. 12.

Briles said Nazir's account of Virk's statements may not be credible and she wants to see two recent complaints filed against him that involve alleged dishonesty.

"I don't have any clue what the complaints are about," Briles said. "All I know is that because they were internal investigations it means he was dishonest with a superior or someone employed with the agency. We want that information . . . and we will get it one way or another. It is very frustrating that the opposition does not want to provide us with what would lead to a fair trial."

Virk pleaded not guilty by reason of insanity last week to charges of trying to drown herself and her 9- and 6-year-old children.

Her defenders, who helped post $500,000 bail for Virk on Wednesday, say she was an abused wife who snapped after her husband boarded a plane for India with plans to divorce her.

Briles said that after Virk, who is Indian, was rescued from the water, Nazir, a Pakistan native, interviewed her and claimed to speak Punjabi, Virk's native language.

But during the interview, he actually spoke a mixture of English, Urdu and Hindi, with very poor grammar, the attorney said.

Briles said the translator she hired to review the interview said some words were incomprehensible.

"He misrepresented his side," she said. "His credibility is worthless."

After Briles first raised the issue of Nazir's credibility in court in June, she was contacted by people with similar concerns.

Because of questions about Nazir, she has asked for full access to the two prior complaints and other relevant information filed within the Oxnard Police Department against him.

Prosecutor Adam Pearlman said that although Nazir's language skills may not have been perfect, the translated transcripts indicate that Virk understood the questions and provided relevant answers. "He would ask things like, 'What happened?' and she would answer that question," he said.

Pearlman also said he might not call Nazir as a witness, making Nazir's police personnel file irrelevant.

"I expect this motion will not be granted," he said.

During the 45-minute hearing, Pearlman asked the judge to ban Virk from seeing her children.

Riley denied that request, saying she didn't want to do anything that might conflict with decisions made by the family law court.

Virk spent eight months in jail before her bail was posted this week.

Virk was in court with a friend and a translator Thursday.

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