RICHMOND, Va. – City leaders and police groups are slamming two Richmond police officers who put in a good word for a sexual assault suspect, helping him make bail.
CBS 6 first reported the story Wednesday night.
City leaders, who asked not to be identified, said the officers’ actions is embarrassing and in no way represents what they're about.
"God forbid it was your sister, your mother, your niece or your daughter were the victim of this crime and two police officers came forward and said what a great guy the guy charged with sexually assaulting your relative,” said Cheryl Nici O'Connell, who heads up the organization, Richmond United for Law Enforcement. “It's wrong."
But after hearing that two off duty officers vouched for sexual assault suspect Atallah Mahases to help him get bond, O’Connell says her phone has been ringing off the hook with cries of condemnation.
"This is not what Richmond Police stand for,” said O’Connell. “We protect our community is what I've heard all day. The community is incensed. What about the rights of the victim?"
Mahases was arrested late last week for allegedly breaking into a woman's apartment on Richmond’s Southside off Hull Street Road.
Court documents say he groped the woman as he professed his love for her.
Crime Insider sources say the woman's two children, ages two and three tried to help their mom, but Mahases threw them to the floor.
The woman and her family have now been placed into protective custody.
O’Connell says her thoughts are with that alleged victim and her kids, and she says she'll be demanding action from Richmond's top brass.
"We expect and demand the Richmond Police Department do a thorough and intense investigation into the actions of these two individuals who were character references, regardless if they were on-duty or off-duty,” said O’Connell.
Wednesday, Richmond Police sent CBS 6 a statement that read:
“The Richmond Police Department is aware and investigating this incident as we would any complaint to the department."
Crime Insider sources say Mahases provides buns and hot dogs for the two officers' side business, which involves running a food cart.
Mahases is due back in court on September 6.