By JOSH FRIEDMAN
A judge sentenced a former Ventura County Sheriff’s deputy to one year in jail over throwing out a drug test that exonerated a woman whom he detained on suspicion of being under the influence of methamphetamine.
On Nov. 12, 2019, then-Deputy Richard Charles Barrios III was on patrol in Camarillo when he pulled over a woman for an alleged traffic violation. Barrios said he suspected the woman was under the influence of methamphetamine and called for another deputy to corroborate his suspicion. The second deputy arrived and agreed that the woman appeared to be under the influence.
However, throughout the incident, the woman vehemently denied being under the influence of drugs. Barrios told the woman, if she were to provide a urine sample and pass a drug test, he would apologize and drive her back to her car.
The woman came to the Camarillo station, provided a urine sample and handed it to the deputy. Barrios tested the sample with a narcotics test kit, examined the results and then threw the test kit into the garbage and disposed of the urine sample.
Next, Barrios refused to tell the woman the results of her test and began the process of booking her into the Ventura County Main Jail. Barrios told his director supervisor that the woman refused to provide a urine sample.
Another deputy began transporting the woman to jail. The woman told the deputy that she provided a sample to Barrios, who tested the urine and then refused to tell her the results.
The deputy later found the test kit in the garbage. The kit showed the woman had tested negative for any controlled substances.
After providing a second urine sample, the woman was again cleared. She was released and taken back to her vehicle.
The sheriff’s major crimes bureau immediately began investigating. Barrios claimed he also administered a narcotics evaluation at the Camarillo station. Investigators viewed surveillance footage and determined Barrios lied about conducting the evaluation.
On Nov. 16, Barrios pleaded guilty to one felony count of destroying physical matter. Recently, a judge sentenced Barrios to one year in jail, as well as two years of felony probation, the maximum possible punishment for the crime.
Following Barrios’s plea, Ventura County Sheriff Bill Ayub released a statement saying his former deputy had violated public trust and corrective action needed to be taken.