Fresno Officer Found Not Guilty

May 6, 2009 12:00:00 AM PDT
Jurors deliberated less than three hours before returning not guilty verdicts for a Fresno Police Officer. Paul Cervantes is expected to return to duty after fighting criminal charges since January. A jury cleared the officer of stealing a car from a suspected drug dealer and giving the vehicle to a police informant. Normally the judge does not comment about the verdicts. But in this case, the judge expressed his support for Officer Cervantes.Cervantes showed very little emotion when the clerk read two not guilty verdicts. As the jury filed out of the court, Cervantes waved and said thank you. Cervantes said, "The truth came out. The truth of the matter was I didn't have anything to do with this. I didn't do anything wrong and I feel vindicated."

The prosecutor tried to prove Cervantes stole an SUV from suspected drug dealer Humberto Quintero. Jurors disagreed.

Police Chief Jerry Dyer was in court as the verdict was read and hugged Cervantes afterward. The chief expressed full support for his officer. Dyer said, "Officer Cervantes was on paid administrative leave during this entire process. And his peace officer powers will be restored immediately today and he will return to full duty."

Judge James Oppliger presided over the trial. After the verdict, the judge supported the jury's decision and the officer. Oppliger said, "I agree that you did not commit a crime, but I felt that your efforts to fix the problem led to suspicions that you had."

Paul Cervantes said he now sees some things he could have done differently to avoid this trial.

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