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Whether they do it to avoid punishment for their own crimes or out of some civic duty, confidential informants know they're entering into a dangerous enterprise. After all, snitches get stitches, as the saying goes.
What a "CI," as they're known, does not anticipate is being outed as an informant by their own officers/handlers and being shot in their home as a result. This unfortunately happened to one CI in Richmond, California, and now the city is compensating him for his injuries.
Wrong Cop at the Wrong Time
Jose Hernandez agreed to work as an informant for Richmond police after getting a DUI and worked with Sgt. Michael Wang. It turned out Wang was taking bribes from drug traffickers and passing on information regarding police investigations.
Wang told one trafficker, Sergio Vega-Robles, about a gun sting involving Sergio's brother, Jose Vega-Robles. In 2005, Jose Vega-Robles shot Hernandez three times in his own home. It also appears that most of the evidence in the shooting is missing, possibly because of an internal police cover-up.
Wang has since been fired and is under criminal investigation for accepting bribes, arranging drug deals, and even tipping off a cartel member to a federal tracking device. Hernandez sued Wang, other officers and the city after the Bay Area News Group released video of Sergio Vega-Robles explaining how Hernandez was outed in 2013. Until that point, Hernandez had no idea it was cops who outed his cooperation.
Where to Now?
While Hernandez received a $700,000 settlement from Richmond, his situation remains a precarious one. While CIs are used often and relied upon by officers and the courts, most CIs receive no compensation for the danger they put themselves in, aside from the possibility of a reduced sentence for snitching.
Richmond has also agreed recommended that Hernandez enter a witness protection program, the one place he might be safe.
Meeting with a lawyer can help you understand your options and how to best protect your rights. Visit our attorney directory to find a lawyer near you who can help.