Bakersfield police officer arrested on drug charges

Bakersfield police officer arrested on drug charges »Play Video
Bakersfield Officer Ofelio Lopez (File photo)
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — A Bakersfield police officer is under arrest on drug charges.

According to the Bakersfield Police Department, Officer Ofelio Lopez, 36, was on duty when he was arrested just before midnight Dec. 2.

Authorities said they received information about possible illegal drug activities by the officer and an internal affairs investigation was launched.

"We had some information from some citizens that a Bakersfield police officer was possibly involved in some narcotics use," Chief Greg Williamson told Eyewitness News on Monday.

The chief said officers obtained methamphetamine from a prior case that was about to be destroyed, and set that out in a purse in a specific location. That was Friday.

Dispatchers then sent Lopez to a report of "found property" in that location. But investigators said Lopez failed to turn over the drugs to the department.

When Lopez was called in later, investigators said they found the purse with some of the drugs in his patrol car, some of the drugs in his pants pocket and Lopez appeared to be under the influence of a controlled substance.

"He picked the purse up, placed it in his patrol vehicle trunk and at the end of the shift he failed to come to the police department and book that evidence, or the found property, into the police department, per our policy," Williamson said.

Lopez was arrested on charges including possession of a controlled substance, transportation of a controlled substance and being under the influence of a controlled substance while armed.

After a search of his home, Lopez was also found to be in possession of brass knuckles in violation of state law. Williamson said no drugs were found at the officer's home.

Asked if Lopez could have retained illegal drugs from other cases, Williamson said the department is checking on that.

"It's quite possible that did happen," the chief said. "But we're just not aware of any instances that it has."

At the Lopez home, a woman stopped by and said she was a friend of his wife. A neighbor said the officer was "very private," and he had lived in the home for quite a while. The neighbor said Lopez lived there with his wife and several children.

In 2005, Lopez and another officer shot and killed a suspect who threatened them with a knife during an attempted burglary in northeast Bakersfield. That shooting was ruled justified.

In 2007, Lopez was hit by car after pulling into the intersection of Hughes and White Lane. Lopez ended up with minor injuries; so did the couple in the other car.

Officials say Lopez is an 11-year veteran of the department. He has been placed on administrative leave and the internal affairs investigation is ongoing.

The criminal case is also underway. BPD officials say Lopez bailed out of jail on Saturday.

"We're very disappointed in what happened," Williamson told Eyewitness News. "I know this is the exception to what our men and women stand for."

If you have any information regarding the case, you are asked to call police at 327-7111.