Sheriff's Deputy Pleads Not Guilty to Assault, Destroying Evidence


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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy pleaded not guilty to three felony charges, including assault and altering evidence, in connection with a 2019 arrest in Lancaster.

Nicole Bell, 27, was charged June 4 with one count each of assault by a peace officer, accessing and altering computer data without permission and altering, planting or concealing evidence as a peace officer.

Bell is accused of assaulting a man while he sat in the back of a patrol vehicle on July 30, 2019, and then deleting video from a cellphone in which a family member had recorded some of the alleged encounter, according to the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

A date is scheduled to be set Feb. 9 for a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence against her to allow the case to proceed to trial.

``Tampering or destroying evidence tarnishes law enforcement and creates mistrust among the public,'' District Attorney George Gascon said in a statement announcing the charges.

The case against Bell marked the third to be filed by the District Attorney's Office against a sheriff's deputy within about two weeks in late May and early June.

Daniel Manuel Auner, 24, was charged May 26 with murder and reckless driving for an off-duty crash in July 2020 in Torrance that killed his 23-year- old passenger, Ashley Wells, and seriously injured two other passengers. He is set to return to court Dec. 16 for the second day of a hearing to determine if there is sufficient evidence to require her to stand trial.

Kevin Honea, now 34, was charged the following day with a felony count of perjury for allegedly lying about finding a gun in a vehicle parked at a Gardena motel in May 2019. He is due in court for a pretrial hearing Jan. 19.

It was not immediately clear what the employment status of the three is with the sheriff's department.

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