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By Brian Hews and Brian Hews
A group of Cerritos College students and local residents have launched an on-line petition drive on behalf of a fellow student whom they claim has been wrongfully accused of a crime and had his constitutional rights violated by members of the Cerritos College campus police department.
Daniel Beckham, 24, is a former Cerritos College student at the center of the fire storm that has sparked an outcry from nearly 200 people who are demanding that Los Angeles County District Attorney Jackie Lacey intercede into the complex case.
Beckham is also a decorated war veteran who served in the US Marines in both Iraq and Afghanastan from 2007 to 2010.
Beckham is slated to appear at Norwalk Superior Court on Thursday Jan. 16 in front of Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Peter Espinosa where his case has been sitting for the past nine months.
Beckham spoke exclusively with Hews Media Group-Community News and he repeatedly maintained his innocence.
The online petition states that “the Cerritos College campus police have not only committed fraud, but they’ve also attempted to force Daniel and other students to commit perjury.”
“The (Cerritos College) campus police are in violation of Title 18 U.S.C. section 1512, yet Ms. Lacey doesn’t seem to care,” it states.
When asked to comment, Cerritos College Chief of Police Richard Bukowiecki said, “the Cerritos College Police Department conducted a wide-ranging investigation into alleged illegal changes to student records. Mr. Daniel Beckham was identified as a suspect. The investigation revealed unauthorized changes to the academic records of a small number of students. All students whose records had been changed were identified and interviewed,” Bukowiecki said.
“The case was submitted to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office. After reviewing the case, the district attorney filed a criminal complaint containing 12 felony charges,” Bukowiecki claimed.
The website claims that “the case has been damaging on Daniel, who attempted suicide on May 20th and was hospitalized for 72 hours at College Hospital. He is also homeless because it says ‘pending charges’ on his record and he can’t find a job. The maltreatment Daniel has received from the college, as well as the campus police and district attorney have been unjust and unconstitutional,” supporters of the petition claim.”
The case alleges that the war veteran hacked into Cerritos College school system and changed student’s grades, all from the Cerritos College Library at 1a.m., well after the campus had been closed.
“Daniel was home sleeping, both his roommate and landlord can vouch for that. When asked if Cerritos College had any proof, possible surveillance videos of the campus at 1a.m. or an eye witness report, they could not provide any footage or witness claims,” the petition supporters stressed.
“When Daniel went to court, the campus police provided Daniel’s statement, it stated that Daniel admitted to changing the grades.”
“Daniel’s signature was not on the statement and when asked if the police could provide video or audio confession from Daniel, they could not,” supporters claim.
The petition also states, confirmed by Beckham, that he was “escorted out of his office, detained and searched” by Cerritos College Police officers.
“The police rummaged through his bag, without consent or probable cause, completely neglecting Daniel’s 4th amendment right. They confiscated his belongings, including his personal laptop and have yet to give it back, deeming it evidence, the petition continues to state.”
The petition on the website also question Cerritos College Police officials roles into collecting evidence into the case.
“The (Cerritos College) police did produce a discovery report where the police had photocopied text messages that they had emailed to themselves, where are the originals?,” the petitioners question.
“When asked why the police were so sure it was Daniel they said that 8 students told officers that Daniel changed the grades. These 8 students paid to have their grades changed, but once they told officers who changed their grades, the students had all charges against them dropped.”
Beckham said that charges against him are “100 percent false” and said he will “not become a fall guy” in the case and that he said he has evidence proving his innocence.
Beckham showed HMG-CN a number of graphic text messages sent to him from an individual identified as Manuel Salazar whom he said is the person actually responsible for the alleged grade changes and to whom Beckham claims “framed him.”
Sources tell HMG-CN that Salazar is the President of the Black Student Union at Cerritos College.
In one of the text messages sent by Salazar to Beckham on October 20, 2013 at 9:40 a.m., Salazar tells Beckham “I changed the grades, because I did it for the money. I am a baller and we got to play the game da game son.”
In another text message, from Salazar to Beckham on January 6, 2014 at 1:22 a.m., Salazar writes: “Hey Faggot. Just wanted to wish you a Happy New Year and hope you kill yourself.”
Salazar goes on to write Beckham in the same note: “You are a worthless piece of S*** and you deserve to die. Me, Arturo and Jesus got together and discussed a game plan so you can’t fight it. You’re Fu****. I also talked to some Deputies who are planning to F****** with you if you don’t leave the area and leave the area and don’t go to (criminal) trial. Oh, and I made sure that I met with Demi and Chris about you going to trial. Like I said, you’re FU***** and there is no way out (except) killing yourself.”
Beckham said the text messages “100 percent prove” that he was “framed” and plans to make sure that they are brought to the attention Judge Peter Espinosa in the case.
See texts below. WARNING: they are very graphic.
Daniel is still facing 12 felony charges and $35,000 in damages. The group continues to ask Cerritos College and the campus police to provide evidence of Daniel’s crime and they have nothing.
“Daniel is an honorable, decorated Marine Corps veteran who diligently attended school at Cerritos College as a pre-med student and worked at the college in the Disabled Students Programs and Services Department helping take notes for students with special needs.”
“He spent 20 hours of his free time weekly to help out the students. All of his students successfully passed their classes. It’s been 7 months and Cerritos College and the campus police have yet to provide any kind of evidence and what they have provided has been tampered with and should be dismissed.”
A friend of Daniel was also harassed and threatened by a campus police official, he demanded she testify against Daniel or else she would lose her classes. This is a federal crime; to intimidate anyone with intent of influencing a witness’s testimony.
“Cerritos College and the campus police have committed perjury and have intimidated students in an attempt to convict Daniel,” the site said.
HMG-CN contacted Los Angeles County District Attorney Spokeswoman Jean Guccione for comment about both the case against Beckham and the contents of the Change.org petition.
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