Former Confidential Informant Shot by Suspect Sues Police

A man who worked as a confidential informant for the Richmond police department is suing the department and a rogue officer who allegedly gave up his identity, leading him to be shot by a suspected drug trafficker.
The suit was filed last month on behalf of Jose Hernandez, who served for years as a confidential informant for Richmond police and was later allegedly outed by Sgt. Michael Wang, a 19-year veteran of the department who is on paid administrative leave and under criminal investigation.
In addition to Wang and the Richmond Police Department, the complaint names former police Chief Terry Hudson and officers Chuck Whitney and Mario Chesney, claiming that they exposed his identity and made him a target.
"He's scared to death, he's very frightened," said Hernandez' attorney, Michael Brown. "Drug dealers tried to kill him, and although the felon we believe to be responsible is in prison, there's a lot of drug dealers out there," the attorney said.

That felon is Jose Vega-Robles, who is in prison on drug trafficking charges and is awaiting trial for allegedly shooting Hernandez in 2005 upon learning of his identity from Wang, according to the complaint.
Since that time, Hernandez has not only suffered physically but also "lives in fear every day" over future retaliation from Vega-Robles's associates, Brown said. Hernandez became a confidential informant for the Richmond Police Department's drug trafficking investigations 10 years ago as part of a deal to dismiss DUI charges against him, his lawyer said.
The plaintiff initially worked with Wang, helping out with undercover operations to catch drug and firearm traffickers, and later with Whitney and Chesney after Wang was promoted. Wang allegedly developed a close relationship with local drug trafficker and Jose Vega Robles's brother, Sergio Vega-Robles, and told him that Hernandez was an informant.

A short time later, Hernandez was shot. By that time, only Whitney and Chesney would have known that Hernandez was still an informant, his attorney said. Last year, after Wang's friendly relationship with Sergio Vega-Robles was leaked to the press - including allegations that he accepted more than $100,000 in bribes from the drug trafficker -- that Hernandez' suspicions that he'd been shot because he was an informant were confirmed, according to Brown.
The complaint alleges that the police department failed to create policies to protect confidential informants' identities and "instead adopted a policy of including the names of confidential informants in the official records of the Richmond Police Department without the safeguards necessary" to protect their identities from others within the department who weren't involved in the investigations.
In addition, the suit claims that the department's command-level officers "negligently and carelessly failed to properly train and supervise police officers of the City of Richmond so as to prevent the names and identities of confidential informants from being revealed." Richmond police Capt. Mark Gagan declined to comment on the lawsuit directly but said the department takes such allegations seriously.
"These kinds of lawsuits can harm our reputation in the community," he said. "We really strive to make sure we have the public's trust, that's one of the most important things a police department needs to be successful," Gagan said, adding that the department's management emphasizes transparency.
However, Brown said the department has not been forthcoming with documents related to Jose Hernandez' shooting, refusing to release information about its internal investigation.
A Richmond judge is set to decide whether to release transcripts and other documents from the police investigation into the shooting, he said.

—By Bay City News


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