LAPD Scandal Sparks Case Reviews

ByABC News
August 10, 2000, 9:43 PM

Aug. 10 -- From 20,000 to 30,000 legal cases will have to be reviewed because of the continuing investigation into corruption in part of the Los Angeles Police Department, the citys public defenders office said today.

We believe we have a legal and ethical obligation to review these cases, said Assistant Public Defender Robert Kalunian. Now that doesnt mean well take action on all the cases. But we feel we have to at least review the cases as the investigation continues to grow.

Currently, as many as 70 current and former police officers are under investigation by state and federal agencies for allegedly beating, robbing and framing innocent people.

The probe into corruption allegations against the Rampart divisions anti-gang unit began last year when undercover officer Rafael Perez was convicted of stealing cocaine from a police evidence locker. In exchange for a five-year sentence, he identified dozens of fellow officers he claimed abused their power, framed and robbed drug suspects and protected each other by maintaining a code of silence between 1995 and 1998.

Since the Rampart investigation began, nearly 100 convictions have been overturned, 30 officers have either been suspended or fired, and the Los Angeles City Attorneys office believes 250 and 275 lawsuits will be filed in federal court on behalf of the alleged victims of Ramparts anti-gang unit.

Wide-Ranging Review

Kalunian believes the scandal may go back before 1995 perhaps 10 years or more. He said the scope of their investigation will depend on the individual officer, the nature and number of the suspicious arrests, and the time elapsed since the suspicious arrests. For example, the public defender said, if investigators suspect wrongdoing in a 10 year-old arrest, they may go back as far as 15 years in the officers arrest record.

The case reviews may not be limited to only Rampart police officers.