Former Navy SEAL Chief Eddie Gallagher’s Pipe Hitter Foundation has put its support behind former La Mesa police officer Matthew Dages, who was accused of falsifying a police report involving a suspect he arrested in May 2020. Nearly a year and a half after the arrest, no evidence has been brought forth to prove the allegations against Dages.
In a Wednesday Facebook post, Pipe Hitter Foundation explained that Dages and his wife are “entrenched in an ongoing legal battle” relating to the falsification charge. Because the legal defense is not entirely covered by Dages’ union, Pipe Hitter has “stepped in” and begun a fundraiser for Dages’ legal expenses, the post added.
In the fundraiser’s description, Gallagher’s group alleges that Dages, who was fired by the City of La Mesa in August 2020, “has been politically railroaded and wrongfully terminated by City of La Mesa officials.”
“Now he’s been criminally charged with falsifying a police report – despite no evidence of such an intentional act and substantial case law defending an officer’s perception and observations,” it states. “Dages was cleared of any use of force during the May 27, 2020 incident, but seemingly due to political pressure, Dages is now a scapegoat for the violence that befell the city.”
The foundation noted that Dages’ attorney filed on Tuesday a motion to dismiss “citing the DA’s inability to provide evidence.”
“Pipe Hitter Foundation will not stand for the continued villainization of this officer,” the description continues. “We have set up a fundraising page for donations to help with legal fees as this officer continues the fight to clear his name.”
“Donations are helping Dages assemble a battle-ready legal team,” the foundation stated. As of Wednesday afternoon, the fundraiser has already raised $21,531.56.
Earlier this year, Dages was charged with a felony count of falsifying a police report on the May 2020 arrest of 23-year-old Amaurie Johnson. If convicted, Dages could face up to three years in prison.
“Dages is accused of falsifying the reason for Johnson’s detention as well as his actions,” the DA’s office said in a statement at the time, according to KTVU.
Johnson said his race played a role in the confrontation, which sparked local riots. After Dages was charged, Johnson wrote on social media that he was thankful for the decision.
“I’ll do my part to make sure there is justice,” Johnson wrote. “Tough times don’t last but tough people do.”
Dages’ August 2020 firing was upheld by a subsequent review panel. At the time, La Mesa Acting Police Chief Ray Sweeney said in a statement that his department “holds each and every member of the department to the highest standards of integrity.”