Bad Boys in Blue

Bad Boys in Blue

LA Police Rocked by Scandal Allegation
Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, left, called allegations of police corruption “disgusting” as he and Police Chief Bernard Parks answered reporters’ questions about a scandal engulfing the LAPD. (Nick Ut/AP Photo)

By Judy Muller
ABCNEWS.com
L O S A N G E L E S, Sept. 20 — The Los Angeles Police Department is reeling from the fallout of its worst scandal in years.
The city has suspended enforcement of an injunction that prohibited the notorious 18th Street gang from congregating, because the officers’ testimony may have been false. So far, a dozen officers have been suspended over allegations of beating, shooting and framing suspects.
Today, Mayor Richard Riordan spoke out for the first time since the scandal broke last week.
“It is unfortunate, disappointing and disgusting that any police officer would violate the laws he or she is sworn to uphold,” Riordan told reporters.
Police Chief Bernard Parks said the officers in question would be investigated and any wrongdoing punished. “I think we have a small number of officers that have chose to in some instances to tarnish their badges,” Parks said.

Framing a Gang Member
It all began when former Officer Rafael Perez, who had been convicted of stealing cocaine from the evidence room, made a plea bargain in which he revealed a much more serious crime.
Javier Francisco Ovando on Feb. 24, 1998. (AP Photo)

He alleged that he and a partner, Nino Durden, shot an unarmed, handcuffed gang member in the head at point-blank range and then framed him by planting a rifle near his body.
The gang member, Javier Ovando, was paralyzed, confined to a wheelchair and convicted of assault on an officer.
“It never occurred to me that police officers would shoot somebody, frame him, commit perjury at this trial and then watch him get sentenced to state prison,” said Tamar Toister, Ovando’s public defender.
Ovando has been released from prison, where he was serving a 23-year sentence.

Investigations and Lawsuits
Similar allegations have been made against other officers in the Rampart Division’s CRASH unit, an elite force charged with policing one of the city’s most violent neighborhoods. The mostly poor and Hispanic district is west of downtown Los Angeles.
“The Rampart CRASH officers have just taken it upon themselves, for lack of a better word, to fight fire with fire,” said Dennis Chang, the Ovando family lawyer. “And I think it’s getting out of hand.”
The scandal has prompted calls for greater oversight of the police department. Hundreds of arrests and convictions are now suspect and could be overturned.
And the lawsuits are bound to follow.

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