3 Sue LAPD Over Rampart Scandal

3 Sue LAPD Over Rampart Scandal
Two sergeants and an ex-officer whose convictions were overturned each seek $10million, saying they became ‘scapegoats.’

By David Rosenzweig
Times Staff Writer

August 7, 2005

Sgt Brian Liddy appears May 15 in a Los Angeles Superior Court.

Sgt Brian Liddy appears May 15 in a Los Angeles Superior Court.

Two Los Angeles police sergeants and a former officer who were tried for allegedly conspiring to frame gang members are each suing the department for $10 million, contending they were used as “scapegoats” in the Rampart scandal.

Sgts. Brian Liddy and Edward Ortiz and former Officer Michael Buchanan were convicted of the charge, but the convictions were overturned by the trial judge.

In separate federal civil rights lawsuits filed Thursday, the three men accused former Los Angeles Police Chief Bernard C. Parks of using them as “scapegoats” to placate the media during the scandal involving the Rampart Division’s anti-gang unit.

More than 100 criminal cases were overturned after former Rampart Officer Rafael Perez contended that he and other officers had routinely framed gang members for crimes they did not commit.

Perez made his explosive allegations in exchange for leniency after he was caught stealing cocaine from a police evidence locker.

In his lawsuit, Liddy alleged that a disciplinary board criticized internal affairs investigators for “spoon-feeding salient fact points” to witnesses with criminal backgrounds who testified against the officers.

The Board of Rights said the witnesses’ recollections were “potentially tainted by the interview process and raised serious questions regarding their credibility,” according to the lawsuit. The board unanimously overruled discipline for Liddy, his lawsuit states. Disciplinary proceedings against Ortiz were pending.

The three plaintiffs also accused the department of concealing from the district attorney’s office the names of witnesses who could have corroborated defense claims that Perez lied in his testimony about the officers.

The LAPD had no comment on the lawsuit or on Liddy’s claims about the Board of Rights’ findings. But a spokesperson said Friday that Liddy and Ortiz, who were suspended in 1999, have been returned to duty.

Liddy’s attorney, Joseph Avrahamy, and Etan Lorant, the lawyer for Ortiz and Buchanan, could not be reached for comment.

The criminal case against the Rampart officers revolved around a 1996 incident in which two reputed gang members were convicted of hitting Buchanan and Liddy with a pickup truck in an alley. Perez told authorities three years later that the officers made up the story to frame the pair.

In a highly publicized trial in 2000, a Superior Court jury convicted the three officers of conspiring to obstruct justice. Afterward, however, Judge Jacqueline Connor vacated the verdicts, saying she had made a “fatal error” in not recognizing that jurors might have misread some jargon in the police report that unintentionally lent support to the claim that the officers had lied.

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