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US

More criminal cases questioned in light of Los Angeles police scandal

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October 22, 1999
Web posted at: 11:02 p.m. EDT (0302 GMT)


In this story:

Emotions running high

14 officers under investigation

RELATED STORIES, SITES icon



From Correspondent Charles Feldman

LOS ANGELES (CNN) -- The worst police scandal to hit Los Angeles in more than half a century is now forcing the review of as many as 1,500 criminal cases.

"We certainly want to make sure that anyone who's in jail, anyone who's in custody, anyone who's in prison who doesn't deserve to be in prison -- we've got to get them out as quickly as possible," Los Angeles County District Attorney Gil Garcetti said.

The ever-expanding police corruption probe gave added fuel to the fourth annual Rally to Stop Police Brutality. Of the hundreds who took part in Friday's rally, many said the corruption scandal brought them out.

Emotions running high

"There is a great deal of feelings and emotions in our area about what's happening here in Los Angeles," said one man attending the demonstration.

The probe began when a former Los Angeles Police Department officer -- as part of a plea agreement -- started fingering other cops for so-called "dirty cases."

Those cases allegedly involved everything from shooting unarmed citizens and then planting evidence -- to drug trafficking by the police.

Some officers in an elite anti-gang unit known as "CRASH" allegedly kept an apartment to have sexual relations with prostitutes who helped the officers sell drugs, according to a report in Friday's Los Angeles Times.

Javier Ovando, who was allegedly framed by officers in a shooting for which he spent three years in prison, has filed a lawsuit in California State court.

Ovando, 22, was freed from prison last month after a jailed ex-police officer, Rafael Perez, told prosecutors he and his partner framed Ovando by planting a gun on him in a shooting which left Ovando paralyzed from the waist down and sent him to prison for a crime he apparently did not commit.

Perez made the allegations of wrongdoing in an effort to obtain a lighter punishment after pleading guilty to stealing eight pounds of cocaine, worth $1 million, from an evidence room.

Perez has been fired and other officers have been relieved of duty with pay as a result of the drug scandal in the Rampart division, which patrols a poor, mostly Hispanic, neighborhood not far from downtown.

Other people convicted with testimony from accused officers may also be freed.

14 officers under investigation

Fourteen LAPD officers are under investigation, and that number is likely to grow. No criminal charges have been filed yet, but they're expected soon.

The scandal was clearly on the mind of the city's police chief as he addressed new recruits at the police academy Friday.

"Each time an officer cuts a corner, each time an officer decides to do things a little differently and illegally -- not only have they tarnished their badge in the community, but they have basically given up on the oath that they took when they came into the department," said Chief Bernard Parks.

An internal LAPD report on the scandal that was supposed to be ready by the end of the month may now be delayed as top police brass try to get a better handle on just how pervasive any alleged corruption might be.



RELATED STORIES:
Man allegedly framed by LAPD files lawsuit
October 13, 1999
New L.A. police scandal
October 1, 1999
Federal authorities investigate LAPD corruption allegations
September 17, 1999
Federal authorities investigating LAPD corruption allegations
September 16, 1999

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