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Testimony: Allegedly corrupt LAPD cops gave each other awards
More calls for independent probe of Rampart Division
LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- Testimony from a former Los Angeles police officer to investigators looking into police corruption has opened a window into an ominous world where allegedly corrupt cops brazenly rewarded each other for their actions.
That disclosure has increased calls for an independent commission to wrest control of the slow-paced probe. At the center of the controversy is the police force's Rampart Division, headquartered in a poor, gang-ridden Mexican section of the city.
The ongoing probe also led Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti to announce Thursday that he plans to go into court next week and seek to have six to 10 more convictions overturned.
LAPD Chief Bernard Parks has previously identified 99 people who he says were wrongly convicted based on false testimony by LAPD officers.
A source familiar with the ongoing LAPD corruption scandal told CNN that as many as 70 current and former officers are being investigated for everything from alleged criminal activities to departmental misdeeds.
At least 20 of those are being investigated by a special LAPD criminal task force looking into so-called "hard-core" criminal activity that includes planting evidence and shooting unarmed and innocent people.
The remaining 50 are being investigated by the department's Internal Affairs Division for various departmental and administrative infractions.
Testimony by former officer Rafael Perez led investigators to the 20 officers under criminal investigation and to about half of those being looked at by Internal Affairs.
Perez is at the center of the scandal. As part of a plea agreement to reduce his sentence for his conviction on drug charges, Perez has implicated himself and others in a scandal that has engulfed the department and has led to 30 people having their convictions overturned.
The source told CNN that Perez has told investigators some of the alleged corrupt officers in the department's Rampart Division actually gave each other awards after being involved in shooting unarmed and innocent people.
Perez told investigators that some supervisory personnel holding the rank of sergeant were actively involved in a cover-up of the illegal activities, according to the source.
The source said it now appears the illegal activity within the Rampart Division's CRASH unit, an elite anti-drug and anti-gang squad, was far more organized than previously thought. In effect, the source says, a sinister "subculture" developed within that particular unit at Rampart.
While some are troubled by the fact that Perez flunked a lie-detector test, the source said investigators have corroborated independently much of what he has alleged.
Ramona Ripston, director of the southern California chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union, said an independent panel -- along the lines of the Christopher Commission that investigated the 1991 beating of black motorist Rodney King by white Los Angeles police officers -- should be appointed to probe the current scandal.
Los Angeles police scandal may be helping the guilty
The Los Angeles Police Department
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