A former Fullerton, California police officer has been sentenced to three years of informal probation after pleading guilty to destroying evidence. The sentence was not imposed in association with a plea deal with prosecutors. The Orange County district Attorney's Office sought time behind bars at sentencing for the former cop.

The charge arose after a drunk driving suspect the Fullerton cop had arrested committed suicide while being held in the city jail. Authorities say that the arresting officer destroyed his digital audio recorder after learning that the suspect hanged himself in his jail cell April 14, 2011.

Prosecutors say that the officer crushed the audio recorder and yanked out its circuit and mother boards, destroying any audio recording that the device contained during his encounter with the alleged drunk driver.

The 42-year-old former officer reportedly had said that while attempting to download the audio files to a computer, he became frustrated with the device because it would not download the information. He says that he threw the recorder, and it struck a wall and broke.

The former cop pled guilty to misdemeanor destruction of evidence and vandalism charges. Prosecutors argued for jail time. The judge placed the man on informal probation and ordered him to complete 60 days community service.

The original DUI arrest followed a routine traffic stop. The officer pulled over a suspect for allegedly driving without illuminated headlights. The suspect committed suicide a few hours later. Authorities wanted the audio recording as a part of the suicide investigation.

Source: The OC Register, "Former police officer sentenced for destroying evidence," Alejandro Molina, Nov. 1, 2012