28 Rampart Officers Named In 108 Civil Suits

Lawsuits Allege Beatings, Chokings And Planting Drugs

LOS ANGELES, Updated 5:50 p.m. PDT June 1, 2000

The 28 officers publicly implicated in the Los Angeles Police Department’s corruption scandal have been named in at least 108 lawsuits brought against the city over the years, the Los Angeles Daily Journal reported.

The lawsuits accuse the officers of such offenses as beatings, chokings and planting drugs. Three of the officers have been sued more than 10 times each, according to the Daily Journal, a legal publication.

The 28 officers whose legal histories the newspaper investigated were named by disgraced former Officer Rafael Perez. It was Perez’s cooperation with investigators that brought the scandal at the LAPD’s Rampart station to light. He named officers in exchange for a lighter sentence for stealing cocaine from a police evidence room.

The Rampart scandal involves allegations that officers in an elite anti-gang unit in the Rampart station, which patrols a poor area just west of downtown, lied under oath, planted evidence and beat and shot innocent people.

At least 40 current and former officers are suspected of criminal activity and at least 75 felony convictions have been overturned as a result of the scandal.

The 28 officers were involved in many of the arrests in which convictions were overturned.

District Attorney Gil Garcetti gave their names to the public defender’s office on May 19 and the list was subsequently obtained by the media and made public.

The Daily Journal last week reported that Sgt. Edward Ortiz, one of three officers to be charged by prosecutors in the scandal, has been named in lawsuits against the city 21 times. Officer Nino Durden, Perez’s former partner, has been named 16 times and Officer Brian Hewitt has been named 12 times.

The lawsuits contain a laundry list of allegations, ranging from unjustified searches to brutal assaults.

Among them is one filed in February 1999 by Ismael Jimenez, in which he claims Hewitt beat him until he vomited blood in a Rampart station interrogation room. Hewitt was fired last year after a police department board of rights hearing found him guilty of six counts related to the alleged assault.

In a separate development related to the Rampart scandal, the Los Angeles Times reported in a story for Thursday that two officers accused of offenses similar to those at the heart of the Rampart scandal were forced to leave the LAPD — but their cases were never referred to the district attorney for criminal prosecution.

Department policy requires all cases involving potentially criminal acts to be presented for prosecution.

In one case, Mark Haro, a training officer from the department’s Central Division, resigned after an LAPD disciplinary panel found him guilty of possessing illegal drugs, paying an informant with crack cocaine and pressuring a rookie trainee to falsify an arrest report.

In the other case, undercover narcotics Officer Gustavo Raya was fired after an LAPD trial board found him guilty of more than two dozen offenses, including illegal drug possession and threatening his wife with a loaded gun.

Despite the findings against the two officers, the LAPD did not refer either case to prosecutors for possible criminal charges, officials with the city attorney’s and district attorney’s offices told the Times.

Cmdr. David J. Kalish, the LAPD’s spokesman, said a preliminary review failed to determine whether the cases were presented for prosecution.

“It would certainly be of interest to us if they were not presented,” Kalish told the Times. “It’s possible that they fell through the cracks.”

Haro, 37, denied any wrongdoing in an interview with the Times and said he resigned from the LAPD because it was clear that his career was over, even if the charges against him were false. Raya, 40, declined to comment, citing the advice of an attorney.

The federal government has threatened to sue Los Angeles if city leaders refuse to enter into a federally monitored “consent decree” guaranteeing they will implement reforms to clean up alleged misconduct and civil rights violations in the LAPD. Negotiations are set to resume Thursday between Justice Department representatives and city officials.

Mayor Richard Riordan and Police Chief Bernard C. Parks have both expressed misgivings about a consent decree, arguing that police and city officials can rectify the problems themselves.

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