Submachine guns, handguns stolen from LAPD SWAT-training site

Police officials confirm that more than 30 firearms, stored overnight at a building considered secure, were stolen. ‘It’s embarrassing…. It’s a lesson learned,’ Deputy Chief Michael Downing says.

LAPD SWAT team members

Some LAPD SWAT team members are shown on the job earlier this year. (Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)

By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles TimesOctober 17, 2011
A cache of Los Angeles Police Departmentsubmachine guns and handguns was stolen last week from a secured building used by the department’s SWAT unit, raising fears that the weapons, which police had altered to fire only blanks, could be converted back to lethal use, police officials confirmed.The weapons, which include 21 MP-5 submachine guns and 12 large caliber handguns, were moved Wednesday night to a multistory building at 14th and San Pedro streets downtown and stored in a locked box on the building’s first floor, said LAPD Deputy Chief Michael Downing.Members of the SWAT unit, which specializes in hostage rescues and other high-risk situations, were scheduled to train at the facility Thursday, Downing said. A police officer arriving at the building around 9 a.m. Thursday discovered the weapons were missing, according to Downing. The officer also found electrical equipment stacked near a back door, indicating the burglars may still have been working and fled when the officer arrived.

Downing said the building, although not a guarded LAPD facility, was considered secure. To get to the weapons, the thieves cut through bolt locks on an outside door and two internal doors and forced their way through a metal roll gate, he said.

“I guess ‘secure’ is all relative now,” he said. “It’s embarrassing…. It’s a lesson learned.”

The theft was particularly awkward because it involved the SWAT unit, one of the most prestigious assignments in the department and one whose members are trained to methodically think through the possible outcomes of situations before acting.

When told about the weapons theft, other LAPD officers, who asked that their names not be used because they did not want to criticize fellow cops publicly, questioned why the weapons weren’t simply kept at SWAT’s headquarters, about a mile from the training site. “Even with some locked doors, they should have seen this as a possibility,” one said.

As a rule, Downing said, officers are not supposed to leave weapons unattended at the building. He added that “appropriate measures” had been taken in response to the gaffe but would not specify if anyone had been disciplined. He said officials are also reviewing SWAT’s procedures for using the building to see if changes are needed.

The building, which once housed textile companies, was donated to the department. Inside, the department put up walls and made other changes in order to create realistic scenarios for training exercises. They did not install an alarm system or surveillance cameras.

Shortly after the break-in was discovered, detectives from the LAPD’s local police station and forensic technicians were summoned to the building, but several hours passed before Downing and other senior LAPD officials were made aware of the breach. When Downing finally learned of the stolen weapons about five hours later, he ordered investigators with expertise in gun thefts to take over the case, he said.

Those investigators are “working on leads,” Downing said. He declined to elaborate but added that he believes the weapons will be found.

It was no secret that the facility, named the Kennedy Building after its owner, was used by SWAT for training. The officers could be seen coming and going and sometimes put on public demonstrations there. That raised the possibility that the thieves had been surveilling the site.

Asked whether there was any indication that the burglary was an inside job involving LAPD officers, Downing declined to comment, except to say, “We’re not ruling anything out.”

“You wonder if this was a planned operation, what information they had, whether they were conducting surveillance,” Downing said.

About a month ago, a woman was seen photographing the building, which triggered an investigation by the officers from the department’s counter-terrorism division, according to Downing. That incident appears unrelated to the break-in, but investigators are continuing to investigate, he said.

The obvious concern is that whoever stole the weapons will convert them from firing blanks to using live ammunition. Downing acknowledged that was “definitely a possibility” but said that to do so would require an understanding of the inner workings of the weapons.

Gun experts and online tutorials suggest, however, that the process is relatively simple and requires only a few parts. The company that manufactures the conversion kits used by the LAPD has an instructional video on its website that walks a viewer through the steps of returning an MP-5 to its original form in about five minutes.

The parts required to change the MP-5 back to live firing were for sale on a gun supply website. It was unclear, however, what documentation or background checks would be required to purchase them.

The idea that nearly three dozen high-powered submachine guns and .45-caliber handguns could make their way onto the black market or be put to use by criminals worried LAPD officials enough that they notified law enforcement agencies in the region.

“This is a big deal,” Downing said. “We’re concerned. We want to recover them.”


LAPD launches formal probe into allegations of intimidation in police gang units

Officers in the 77th Street Division allegedly discouraged colleagues from signing financial disclosure forms required for officers who want to work gang details.

July 22, 2011|
By Joel Rubin and Andrew Blankstein, Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles police officials have launched a formal investigation into concerns that officers in one of the city’s most gang-plagued areas are intimidating other cops from signing a controversial financial disclosure form that is required to join the department’s anti-gang units.

So far, five officers have been removed from their field assignments at the LAPD’s 77th Street Division and will be transferred out of the area for their roles in two recent incidents.

The inquiry at the 77th Street Division comes six months after department leaders suspended anti-gang operations there and at a handful of other stations in order to rebuild units vacated entirely by officers who refused to comply with the disclosure rule.

Although department officials have made substantial progress recruiting officers to fill gaps left in gang units elsewhere, they have encountered more entrenched resistance among 77th Street officers and at one other station in South L.A.. At both, only about half of the anti-gang positions have been filled, said Deputy Chief Pat Gannon, who oversees operations in the city’s southern region.

To assess the extent of the resentment within the ranks of 77th Street officers, Gannon has formed a six-person group of investigators.

“There are a lot of strong feelings about the financial disclosures, and people aren’t shy about sharing those feelings,” Gannon said. “That’s OK, but if people are reluctant to take the assignment because of how others are expressing themselves, we’ve got to step in and do something.”

Gannon ordered the probe after commanders learned in recent weeks of a July 7 party for 77th Street officers at a Gardena bar. At the entrance, a sign was posted that read something akin to “Anyone who signed financial disclosure not welcome,” Gannon said. The party was also billed as a “hood day” party — a term used by gangs to signify anniversary celebrations for their gangs. In a separate incident around the same time, a former 77th Street gang officer sent an email to others in the station in which he ridiculed an officer who had decided to sign the disclosure form and join the unit, Gannon said.

The disclosure policy, which is intended to help identify and deter corruption among the estimated 700 gang and narcotics officers who frequently handle cash, drugs and other contraband, has been a source of controversy since the idea was first introduced years ago. Department officials pushed the measure through in order to end years of monitoring by the federal government that followed the Rampart corruption scandal. They acted despite vigorous protests and legal challenges by police union leaders and rank-and-file officers who argued the disclosures were an invasion of privacy and would be useless in catching rogue cops.

Under the terms of the policy, officers must periodically report outside income, real estate holdings, stocks and other assets. They also have to report the size of bank accounts and debts, including mortgages and credit cards. And the disclosures apply to any financial holdings a cop shares with family members and business partners.

The disclosure plan, which was adopted in 2009, gave officers who were already assigned to the affected units until the end of March of this year to abide by the new rules or be moved back to regular patrol assignments. Few narcotics officers objected, and most gang officers complied. However, all but one of the roughly 80 gang officers in the department’s 77th, Southeast, Northeast and Hollenbeck divisions — areas that are home to some of the city’s most violent and active gangs — refused. Likewise, all members of smaller gang teams in Van Nuys and Devonshire said they would not adhere to the policy.

Needing time to recruit new officers before summer, when gang crime traditionally spikes, and wanting to avoid tension between outgoing and incoming officers, LAPD Chief Charlie Beck gave the go-ahead in February to shut these anti-gang units down. At the time, Beck, Gannon and others said they would not tolerate any attempts by officers to dissuade officers from joining.

The email and party incidents are the first problems to come to the attention of supervisors, Gannon said. And though they may have been meant as jokes and not explicit attempts to intimidate, Gannon said there was no room for leniency. “Some people are saying these incidents were just gallows humor,” Gannon said. “Well, it isn’t a joke to me. We can’t mess around with this.”

The five officers who are being transferred include a lieutenant who was at the party and did not object to the “hood day” references or the financial disclosure sign, Gannon said. Formal discipline investigations have been opened and, depending on the findings, the officers could face further punishments.

Operating at half-strength has not had a discernible impact on anti-gang operations at 77th Street station. So far this year, gang crime in the area is down more than 20% over the same period in 2010, according to department figures. However, a recent spate of gang-related shootings in South L.A. — including 14 over the Fourth of July weekend — demonstrates how quickly violence can spiral out of control in the area.


New discipline policy at LAPD results in some officers avoiding punishment

In many cases, misconduct that once brought suspension without pay now brings a warning that future offenses will bring severe penalties. Members of the Police Commission express skepticism about the approach.

By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
July 4, 2011
A growing number of Los Angeles police officers who have used excessive force, driven while intoxicated, falsely imprisoned people or committed other serious misconduct are being let off without punishment as part of a new, controversial approach to discipline at the LAPD.Instead of handing down suspensions without pay, as was the norm for such offenses, police officials increasingly are putting officers on notice that another gaffe of the same sort will bring a severe penalty and possible termination.The strategy, called a “conditional official reprimand” in LAPD jargon, is the centerpiece of a philosophical change to discipline the department has been rolling out slowly in recent years. The new model, police officials say, is more effective at improving officers’ behavior and allows the department to get rid of incorrigible cops more swiftly than before.But as the use of conditional reprimands has jumped dramatically — 14 were issued in 2008 compared to 109 in 2010 — they have drawn scrutiny and criticism from the Police Commission, the civilian panel that oversees the department. At a public meeting late last month, commissioners raised concerns over the use of the reprimands to resolve serious offenses, for which they believe officers should be punished more harshly.

“The way it’s being handled minimizes the seriousness of these situations,” Commissioner Alan Skobin told Deputy Chief Mark Perez, who oversees discipline. “If an officer commits a criminal act — the two good examples are DUIs and domestic violence — there is some real angst … when, basically, in the department the worst thing that happens is that they’re being told, ‘The next time you do that it’s going to be serious.’ ”

Perez, who runs the department’s Professional Standards Bureau, is the architect of the LAPD’s new take on how to deal with troublesome officers. Under Chief Charlie Beck and his predecessor, William Bratton, the 29-year LAPD veteran began working to design a system that, as he often says, emphasizes “strategy over penalty.”

“We have to lead as if we’re going to progress past just punishing people and expecting that to get anything done,” Perez told the commission.

In the traditional approach to police discipline, cops are given a punishment that is thought to be in line with the seriousness of the offense they committed. In rare, extreme cases, such as an officer convicted of a violent crime, a first-time offense can lead to the officer’s being fired. It is far more common, however, for an officer to receive a written admonition or a suspension. Punishments are often incremental, becoming somewhat more severe if an officer commits the same type of misconduct repeatedly.

In the LAPD, for example, officers could be caught driving drunk three or four times before being fired, Beck said. A first drunk driving offense typically carried a suspension ranging from five to 10 days. The second time, the officer might be given 15 days off and the third time a special contract would likely be imposed to require the officer to attend counseling and otherwise behave.

Similar to the way prison sentences are used to deter and punish criminals, this strategy assumes that the threat of punishment will keep officers from stepping out of line.

Perez and Beck, however, do not believe this sort of discipline does much to dissuade misconduct. It is particularly ineffective, they said in interviews, in a department like the LAPD, where the union representing rank-and-file officers offers an insurance program that pays officers their salaries for days they are suspended.

“For the 35 years I’ve been in this organization, we’ve been trying to make this work and it hasn’t been effective,” Beck said. “It does not set consequences for the officers.”

Instead, Perez has been pushing the notion that officers are more likely to change their behavior if they are made to think about their misconduct and how it undermined the department’s fundamental mission of protecting the city, along with its reputation and the officer’s own self-interest.

The conditional reprimands are a main component to this idea. According to Perez, when an officer receives one, he is supposed to have an extensive discussion with his commanding officer about the misconduct, accept responsibility and explain how he plans to change his behavior in the future. The terms of each reprimand stipulate what the punishment will be if the officer recommits the same or a similar offense. And, depending on the seriousness of the misconduct, reprimands typically remain in effect for three years, five years or for as long as the officer remains at the LAPD, Perez said.

Commissioners expressed serious doubts. Several objected strongly to a department report showing that between 2008 and 2010, 22 officers and civilian employees were given conditional reprimands for drunk driving, six for domestic disputes, two for using unauthorized force and four for false imprisonment, among other infractions.

“We need to make sure that this process does not distort our value system,” Commission President John Mack said. “There are some categories where first time around there has to be something more harsh.”

Nicole Bershon, the commission’s inspector general, echoed that concern in a 2010 report highlighting the case of a supervising sergeant found guilty of using a racial slur against one young officer and screaming profanities at another at a crime scene.

Despite a previous similar incident in the sergeant’s record, Beck opted to give him a conditional reprimand that called for a minimum of a 15-day suspension, a demotion or both if he committed a similar offense. Bershon’s report criticized the decision, saying the penalty seemed too lenient “given the nature of the allegations, and the potential for liability and repercussions.”

Beck and Perez have staunchly defended the use of the reprimands, dismissing the claims that officers are being let off too leniently. Beck reviews each case in which a conditional reprimand is used, they said. He said he considers each case individually and, in general, doesn’t allow the reprimands to be used in cases in which officers use physical violence.

And they believe the approach is working. Perez told the commission that of the 196 conditional reprimands issued between 2008 and 2010, only three went to employees who committed similar offenses. Commissioners were not convinced, saying it was too early to judge the reprimands’ effectiveness and that the department should compare the recidivism rates under the old system.

They balked as well at the way the reprimands have been implemented. They called on Perez to develop a clear set of guidelines that establishes the types of cases in which conditional reprimands are used and the specific conditions that are imposed on officers. They questioned, for example, whether the reprimands require an officer to submit to counseling and treatment after an arrest for drunk driving or a domestic dispute. The lack of such standards, they said, made it likely the department was being inconsistent in how it used the reprimands.

There are indications of such inconsistencies. Beck said he wants to use the reprimands to impose a policy of “two strikes and you’re out” for drunk driving cases, meaning that the department would move to fire an officer after a second DUI. Last year, however, Bershon’s office published a report that examined eight cases in which officers received conditional reprimands for first-time drunk driving offenses. Of them, five were told a second offense would mean being fired, while the other three were told they would receive suspensions.

Perez and Beck said they are optimistic they will be able to assuage many of the commission’s concerns, saying a set of guidelines for the reprimands is currently being drawn up. They cautioned, however, that the authority to make decisions on discipline lies solely with the chief and said they would resist a push to set the rules for conditional reprimands in stone.

“We don’t want to tie our hands. We need to be able to be flexible,” Beck said.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times


LAPD Officer Convicted of Workers’ Compensation Fraud

07.01.11   8:04 AM

Los Angeles:  Today, a veteran Los Angeles police officer pled guilty to misdemeanor workers’ compensation fraud.

On September 30, 2010, Police Officer Robert Yanez, who has 11 years of service with the Los Angeles Police Department, last assigned to Wilshire Division, was arrested by investigators of the Department’s Workers’ Compensation Fraud Unit (WCFU) on six felony counts of workers’ compensation insurance fraud.

The WCFU of Special Operations Division began investigating Yanez after he submitted inconsistent doctor’s notes which extended his worker’s compensation benefits.

The altered medical notes extended Yanez’ leave from the Department and furthered his compensation benefits.

As part of the criminal conviction for workers’ compensation fraud, the court ordered Yanez to pay full restitution to the City of Los Angeles in the amount of $ 6,234.08.  In addition, Yanez was sentenced to 100 hours of community service and placed on two years of summary probation.  Yanez has been relieved of duty pending the outcome of an administrative hearing.

The WCFU was expanded by the Department in late 2008 to investigate employees possibly involved in workers’ compensation fraud and abuse of benefits.  The goal of the Department has been to aggressively investigate fraud and abuse of benefits within the workers’ compensation system.  The Department has and will continue to investigate and prosecute employees who compromise the safety of the public by committing fraud.

The investigation was conducted in partnerships with the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Healthcare Fraud Division, the City of Los Angeles Personnel Department and TriStar Risk Management.

Anyone with information related to other cases of workers compensation fraud is encouraged to call the LAPD Special Operations Division at 213-473-5672.  During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should be directed to 1-877-LAPD-24-7.   Anyone wishing to remain anonymous should call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477).  Tipsters may also contact Crime Stoppers by texting to phone number 274637 (C-R-I-M-E-S on most keypads) with a cell phone.  All text messages should begin with the letters “LAPD.” Tipsters may also go to, click on “webtips” and follow the prompts.


Former LAPD officer suspected of bilking at least $2 million from fellow cops, other investors

May 12, 2011 |  2:07 pm


This post has been corrected. See the note at the bottom for details.

A former Los Angeles police officer charged with defrauding a handful of San Bernardino County people in an investment scam had been running real estate investment schemes for years and is suspected of bilking at least $2 million from fellow LAPD officers and other investors, authorities said.

Darcey Greenfield, 39, surrendered Wednesday to investigators from the San Bernardino County district attorney’s real estate fraud unit, according to Mike Leibrich, the unit’s senior investigator. She faces several felony charges, including the sale of false investment securities, the sale of securities without a license, and grand theft.

Greenfield and her investment dealings were profiled in a Times article last year.

The criminal charges filed by San Bernardino County prosecutors stem from investments Greenfield allegedly solicited in 2007 and 2008, authorities said. Greenfield allegedly persuaded victims in San Bernardino County to invest their savings, totaling $265,000, in investment securities, the district attorney’s office said in a written statement. The number of alleged victims included in the San Bernardino County case was not immediately clear.

Greenfield told the victims that the investment money would be used to help homeowners in foreclosure, according to the district attorney’s office. The victims were promised they would get back a high rate of return and their principal, but they received nothing, authorities said.

She is suspected of taking money from victims outside of San Bernardino County as well. Over several months in 2007 and 2008, Greenfield told The Times, she collected about $2 million from investors and funneled it to a man who was ultimately discovered to be a con artist. San Bernardino County officials allege she collected more than $3 million from Los Angeles residents.

At least 13 LAPD employees are known from Greenfield’s court records to have invested with her, including four detectives and five supervising sergeants. Police officials say they suspect that the total was higher because officers were probably pooling their money and investing under a single name.

At least three officers, including Greenfield, have declared bankruptcy. Others went further into debt to pay back friends and relatives who gave them money to invest.

Police officials launched an investigation last year after learning about the investment schemes. Greenfield resigned from the department this year before discipline proceedings were completed. It was not immediately clear if the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office or other agencies are pursuing criminal charges against Greenfield.

Greenfield is being held at the West Valley Detention Center in Rancho Cucamonga. Her bail is set at $1,020,000.

For the record, 7:57 p.m. May 12: A previous headline on this post said that at least $2 million came solely from fellow cops.

– Joel Rubin

Photo: Darcey Greenfield. Credit: San Bernardino County district attorney’s office


LAPD, get a handle on officer lawsuits

With so many officer lawsuits going to trial instead of being settled, the Los Angeles Police Department should protect taxpayers by pursuing only those cases it can win.

May 11, 2011

There are a number of curious — and, in some ways, troubling — trends at work in the litigation record of the Los Angeles Police Department. This city’s police officers appear to be abnormally litigious, suing their department at rates far higher than their counterparts in other big cities. Juries here seem inclined to dole out substantial awards, sometimes for relatively minor injuries: One motor officer whose demotion cost him $27,000 in lost income was awarded $1 million at trial. And a shift from settling these cases to fighting them out in court has yielded mixed benefits: It may ultimately discourage frivolous suits, but it has resulted in some puzzling and costly verdicts.

City officials are now reviewing policies and practices to see if there are better ways of defending the public purse. There are some encouraging signs. As the LAPD begins to shed its old reputation for violence, juries that once routinely sided against police officers in cases of alleged excessive force are listening more closely to the department’s arguments. Also, the city has addressed a longstanding source of frustration. In years past, it would often pay judgments or settlements in connection with accusations of police misconduct but then never bother to investigate whether the misconduct occurred. Thanks to the consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice, those cases began to be investigated — and continue to be, even though the decree is no longer in force. That allows the department to discipline or fire those who committed the abuses.

The persistence of cases brought by officers against the department, however, is expensive, setting the city back more than $18 million since 2005. City officials defend the practice of forcing more cases to trial: Settling them early had created an expectation of easy money and encouraged lawsuits. But if the city is going to go to trial rather than seek settlements, it must be sure to do so with cases it can win and with lawyers who can defend them effectively. The city lawyers who handle these cases have a decidedly mixed record. One assistant city attorney dropped a case mid-trial to go on vacation, leaving it to another to complete. And Bill Carter, the office’s top deputy, concedes that lawyers on his staff have missed deadlines and otherwise bungled cases.

City Atty. Carmen Trutanich should insist on professionalism and excellence in defending these cases, and the City Council should inquire as to whether the city is adequately staffed in this area. The LAPD, meanwhile, has a responsibility to rid itself of supervisors who harass, discriminate or retaliate — violating the rights of police officers, opening up the department to lawsuits and ultimately wasting taxpayer money.

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times


Officers who alleged LAPD traffic ticket quota system win $2-million judgment

April 11, 2011 |  5:19 pm
A jury on Monday awarded $2 million to two Los Angeles police officers in a civil suit against the city and the department alleging there was a “quota system” for writing traffic tickets on the city’s Westside.Officers Howard Chan and David Benioff, veteran motor officers with the LAPD’s West Traffic Division, sued the department in 2009, alleging that their captain mandated each motor officer to write 18 tickets a day, according to the suit.In addition to the quota, officers were told the tickets they gave out had to be for “major movers” such as speeding, lane straddling or running a red light — offenses that could each generate revenue of several hundred dollars each.The civil court jury sided with the officers by a vote of 11 to 1. The damage award was for loss of reputation and specific employment actions against the officers by the department affecting their careers after they reported the misconduct and refused to meet the quotas.”We’re very hopeful that this will put an end to fleecing motorists on the West side of Los Angeles,” said Benioff’s attorney, Gregory Smith. “Quotas are a direct violation of the vehicle code and this case was about these officers being asked to break the law.”The city attorney’s lawyer on the case, Shaun Dabbe Jacobs, who defended the LAPD in court,  argued that the department had broad goals rather than specific quotas and that the intent was to reduce injuries and fatalities on the road.John Franklin, a spokesman for the city attorney’s office, said Monday the department was reviewing the case and “weighing our options.”Former LAPD Cmdr. Paul Kim testified that factors such as weather, the price of gas and paramedic response times played a larger role in affecting traffic fatality and injury numbers.In testimony, officers said they were assigned to specific “laser certified” streets from regular traffic patrols to increase their ticket output. These locations were referred to as “orchard” or “cherry patches.””These kind of quotas undermine the confidence of citizens in the Los Angeles Police Department,” said Chris Brizzolara, the lawyer for Chan.

–Andrew Blankstein
Twitter: @anblanx


Underage Sex: LAPD Officer in His 30s Got 17-Year-Old Girl Pregnant, Asked Her To Abort the Baby, She Claims

By Dennis Romero, Thu., Apr. 7 2011 @ 3:11PM
An 18-year-old woman says she had sex with a Los Angeles police officer when she was 17, which could constitute statutory rape in California. She gave LA Weekly a paternity test that shows a 99 percent probability that the officer is the father of her child, born Dec. 11.Maria Rodriguez turned 18 in July (you can do the math). The officer, reached while he was on-duty this week at the LAPDs Holleneck station, acknowledged that he knows Rodriguez, but said “I don’t want to” talk about the situation.The LAPD, while also expressing some knowledge of the allegations, essentially had no comment, stating that it’s a personnel matter. In fact, the reason Rodriguez came forward (and this gets a little complicated) …
… is that she says the department targeted the wrong cop in its internal investigation of her allegations.
parternity document.JPG
A snippet from the paternity test.

She says she started a relationship with another Hollenbeck officer, who happens to be in his early 40s, after she turned 18. She says he had been a friend of the family and gave advice to her father.She says the LAPD targeted that officer, accused him of being the baby’s father and ultimately fired him over their relationship — for doing personal work on the city’s time. She says he’s fighting for his job with the help of the Los Angeles police union.

In response to a question of whether it was representing the second cop, Los Angeles Police Protective League President Paul M. Weber said:

… the LAPPL does not comment on personnel matters involving members nor do we disclose who we are representing . I can tell you that the League provides a number of services for members including contract negotiations, legal representation for members, representation with grievances, arbitrations and unfair labor practices, assistance with workers’ compensation claims, sick leave, injured-on-duty matters and service and disability pensions.

An LAPD lieutenant questioned Rodriguez’s credibility in the matter and said the 40-something boyfriend was still employed by the department.

Although it appears the alleged father, said to be 37, has not publicly claimed the baby boy is his, Rodriguez says she’s had to defend her custody in court. (She showed the Weekly documents which seem to support this claim).

Rodriguez also claims that the cop has stalked her and parked near her Eastside house — both on and off-duty — on several occasions.

She says she developed a relationship with second officer after turning to him for advice about her pregnancy and the alleged stalking. He advised her, she said, to take her claims to internal affairs investigators.

Ironically, she says, those investigators turned on the second cop.

“They relieved him of duty,” Rodriguez says. “Nothing ever happened with him. All he ever did was help with a term paper.”

She says she developed the relationship two weeks after her 18th birthday.

But, Rodriguez says, LAPD investigators became aggressive in their inquiry, coming to her home and that of her current boyfriend. She says cops served a search warrant at her home. She says the department also sought DNA evidence from both officers to determine paternity.

Of the father, she says:

“After he found out I was pregnant he told me to kill the baby — get rid of it — because it was evidence against him.”

She says her boyfriend has been working as a security guard and just wants his job back.


Police Commission overrules chief, says LAPD shooting was wrong

The commission rejects the chief’s finding that officers made mistakes but were ultimately justified in killing an unarmed autistic man.

By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
March 5, 2011
The civilian commission that oversees the Los Angeles Police Department has taken the rare step of rejecting a recommendation from the department’s chief, ruling that two police officers were wrong when they fatally shot an unarmed autistic man last year.

Police Chief Charlie Beck concluded after a lengthy internal investigation that the officers made serious tactical mistakes during the brief, late-night encounter, but ultimately were justified in using deadly force against Steven Eugene Washington, 27.

About midnight on March 20, Officers Allan Corrales and George Diego, who worked in an anti-gang unit, were driving in a marked patrol car along Vermont Avenue in the city’s Koreatown neighborhood. Both officers told investigators they heard a loud noise — which one described as a “deep boom” — behind them, according to Beck’s report on the incident.

The Times obtained a redacted version of the report, which conceals the officers’ names. Because of the redactions it is not possible to tell what role each officer played in the shooting.

Looking behind them, the officers saw Washington walking on the sidewalk in the opposite direction. They turned the car around and drove slowly behind him. The officer in the passenger seat rolled down his window and called out to the man, the report said. The officer told investigators Washington turned toward him, gave him a “hard” look, then reached into the waistband area of his pants, according to the report.

The officer who was driving pulled up alongside Washington. From a few feet away, his partner saw a dark object tucked into Washington’s waistband and, convinced it was a gun, drew his own weapon and pointed it at the man, according to the report.

Washington, according to the officers’ account in the report, turned abruptly and began to walk directly toward the patrol car as the driving officer brought the car to a stop. The officer in the passenger seat told investigators Washington had a “blank stare” as if in a daze and ignored orders to raise his hands.

From the car, the officer fired a single shot, then ducked down below the window. The shot struck Washington in the head.

Washington had no weapon. The dark object the officer observed was probably Washington’s black cellphone. In describing the shooting, the officer initially told investigators that he had seen the object in Washington’s hand and that Washington had pointed it at them as he approached.

Los Angeles County coroner’s officials, however, found the cellphone still in its holster attached to Washington’s waistband.

When pressed by investigators on whether he actually saw an object in Washington’s hand, the officer backed away from his statement, saying, “I — honestly, it was so quick so then I was — it was a split second. You know, I couldn’t tell.”

After jumping out of the car, the driving officer also fired a single shot a few seconds after his partner fired, according to the report. The officer said Washington was still standing when he fired. Investigators were not able to determine if that was possible.

The shooting drew sharp criticism from Washington’s family, who said the man was autistic and fearful of strangers. Civil liberties groups questioned the shooting, suggesting that the officers may have overreacted because they had not observed Washington doing anything criminal.

Based on the investigation’s findings, Beck found Corrales and Diego had violated department policies in how they approached and engaged Washington, but decided it was reasonable for them to believe the man had a gun and intended to shoot them.

In a unanimous decision, however, the civilian commission found differently. The panel said Corrales and Diego violated department policies that govern when an officer can use lethal force.

The commission almost always follows the chief’s recommendations on cases in which officers use serious force. Since Beck became chief more than a year ago, the panel has overruled him only three times out of dozens of cases.

Beck, who alone can impose discipline, initiated disciplinary proceedings against Corrales and Diego following the commission’s finding, according to a senior LAPD official who requested anonymity because discipline cases are confidential. Beck declined to comment.

Paul Weber, president of the union representing rank-and-file officers, said he strongly disagreed with the commission’s conclusion.

“I don’t know what they expect officers to do,” he said. “Wait until one of them is shot before they react?”

A commission report outlining its reasoning on the case is expected to be released early next week.


LAPD questions a crucial mistake

The night Flor Medrano was stabbed, LAPD officers were standing watch outside her apartment to see that she came to no harm. So what went wrong?

By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times
March 2, 2011
Flor Medrano went to the police for help.

At dusk on a November evening in 2009, Medrano, a 30-year-old housekeeper with an easy smile and a love for Mexican Norteño music, came into the Los Angeles Police Department‘s Wilshire Division station. She had hardly slept for days. Her estranged, abusive boyfriend was stalking her and threatening to kill her. Medrano was terrified.

Tony Hyong Im, an officer with 12 years on the job, his rookie partner Hugo Fuentes, and a detective, Edward Ruffalo, were assigned to the case. The three spent hours with Medrano at the station, and later Im and Fuentes escorted her back to her mid-Wilshire neighborhood.

Medrano climbed the stairs to her apartment on the second floor and disappeared inside. The officers kept watch from their car across the street, figuring her boyfriend, Daniel Carlon, might show.

Carlon, however, was already in the apartment. Strung out on cocaine and methamphetamine, he attacked Medrano with a foot-long knife, stabbing her repeatedly in the legs and chest. Hearing Medrano’s screams, the officers bolted up the stairs. A metal security door and metal bars on the window allowed them no way in.

Peering through a small break in a window shade, Im saw Medrano, her shirt soaked in blood. Carlon was coming at her from behind with the knife raised.

The officer couldn’t get a shot at him without likely hitting Medrano. “Police! Drop the knife!” Im shouted. “Drop the knife!”

Carlon hesitated, apparently surprised by the officer’s presence. Then, he lunged at Medrano.

A single gunshot cracked the air.

The events of that night would give rise to troubling questions. Had mistakes been made? Could the attack have been prevented?


Medrano and Carlon had met years before through her sister. They dated for a while, but Medrano broke off the relationship when she discovered that Carlon, 23, had lied about his age. The pair lost touch, but reconnected again in the spring of 2009.

It seemed like a good match. “She was so happy, always talking about how much she wanted to be with him,” recalled Medrano’s sister, Diana. Carlon doted on Medrano’s toddler daughter from a previous relationship, Mariana, and the little girl adored him, adding to the sense that things were working out well, the sister said.

But in private, the relationship was abusive and volatile. Her close friend, Sherrie Martinez, and Medrano’s sister recalled the day she appeared with a black eye and said she had fallen while working for a family in the Hollywood Hills. Later, Medrano admitted to police that Carlon had assaulted her several times.

On the Sunday before the attack, Medrano and Carlon had a nasty argument when she caught him scrolling through her cellphone to see who she had been calling. The next night, she went to a bar with Martinez to talk. “She was very upset,” her friend recalled. “She said something like, ‘I never wanted to see this side of him, but I see it now.’ She was scared of how jealous he was.”

While the women were out, Carlon went to Martinez’s home looking for Medrano. He was on the lawn with a hammer in his hand when they returned. The women sneaked in through a back door and Carlon started screaming for Medrano to come outside. When she refused, he smashed the windshield of her car and drove off.

Medrano called the LAPD and officers came to take a report, but it does not appear that any serious effort was made to locate Carlon. Martinez said Medrano stayed up until nearly dawn, saying over and over, “I can’t believe this is happening. I don’t know what I am going to do.”

Late the next night, Medrano was awakened by Carlon at her front door. Crying, he apologized and begged to be let in. Medrano’s daughter awoke and Carlon reached through a window to embrace her. “What’s wrong, Mommy?” the girl asked, growing upset. “Why won’t you let him in?”

This article was based on information contained in records of the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, as well as interviews. The records include the LAPD’s official review, analysis and findings of the incident, and the Board of Police Commissioners’ findings of the incident. Officers Im and Fuentes and Det. Ruffalo declined to comment for the article.

Medrano, who recounted the scene to Martinez, opened the door. Once inside, Carlon raped her. He stayed the night, telling her he had a gun.


As Medrano worked the next day, Carlon sent her dozens of messages, some professing his love and others vowing to kill her. After work, she returned to her neighborhood, where she walked up to a pair of officers on the street as they finished writing a ticket. The officers instructed Medrano to follow them in her car to the station.

They were at the end of their shift, so a supervisor called Im and Fuentes in from the field. They, along with Det. Ruffalo, introduced themselves to the frightened woman. Medrano told them about the rape and the threats, which Carlon continued to send on her cellphone while she was at the station. At one point, Carlon called and told her he would stab her to death if she went to the police.

The officers tried without success to convince Medrano to go with them to a hospital for a medical exam. Leaving her for a while at the station, they went in search of Carlon. And Ruffalo tried to set a trap by having Medrano call Carlon and suggest a meeting at a local laundromat. At first he agreed, but then canceled.

The detective also instructed Im to obtain an emergency protective order from court officials, which would have barred Carlon from having contact with Medrano until she could seek a formal restraining order. The emergency order would have obligated Im and Fuentes “to use every reasonable means” to find Carlon and serve him with the order.

But Im decided that Medrano’s situation did not meet the requirement of “immediate and present danger of domestic abuse … or stalking.” He never sought the emergency order.

By then an exhausted Medrano had been at the station for hours. Im suggested she spend the night in the lobby or at a women’s shelter. But, with her daughter with relatives for the night and the security bars on her window and door, she told the officers she felt safe enough to return home.

Im suggested that he and Fuentes accompany her and keep watch for Carlon. Medrano agreed. From inside their unmarked police car, Im and Fuentes had a clear view of Medrano’s front door.

About 30 minutes after arriving, Fuentes called her cellphone and got no answer. He waited five minutes and tried again, but she did not pick up. Medrano answered a third call with “hello,” but hung up immediately. There were four more calls over the next few minutes and each time whoever was on Medrano’s end hung up.

Fuentes called once more. Medrano was screaming.

Im sprinted up the stairs and, finding the metal security door bolted from the inside, moved over to the window. He drew his gun.

Carlon brought the knife down on Medrano, slicing through her lung and piercing her heart. She fell backward, giving Im a clear shot. The officer fired, hitting Carlon in the chest. Carlon crumpled to the ground.

Im and Fuentes, who stood nearby, were helpless to do anything for Medrano. “Sweetie, come to me,” Im pleaded with the bleeding woman. “Come to me. Open the door.”

She crawled to it. “I can’t,” she said, trying to unlatch the lock. She slumped against the wall. Other police were arriving, but it took several minutes to pry open the door. Doctors pronounced Medrano dead soon after she arrived at a nearby hospital.

Carlon died later that night as well.


In the weeks that followed, the officers were commended for their actions. Capt. Eric Davis, their commanding officer, forcefully defended them against questions from reporters, calling them “diligent in their efforts.”

The county Board of Supervisors paid tribute to Im, Fuentes and Ruffalo for their “heroic” efforts to save Medrano and for going “beyond the expectations of ‘To Protect and To Serve,’ ” the LAPD’s motto.

This article was based on information contained in records of the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, as well as interviews. The records include the LAPD’s official review, analysis and findings of the incident, and the Board of Police Commissioners’ findings of the incident. Officers Im and Fuentes and Det. Ruffalo declined to comment for the article.

At some level, the admiration was warranted. There seems to be no doubt that the officers tried to do right by a woman who had come to them for help. But a routine internal investigation led LAPD officials to soon question the decisions made that night. As the inquiry progressed, the early praise increasingly seemed misplaced.

LAPD Chief Charlie Beck, a team of command-level officers that reviewed the case, and the civilian commission that oversees the department all faulted the officers for mistakes. They criticized Ruffalo for, among other things, not confirming that Im and Fuentes had obtained the emergency protective order. They also found that the two officers were too slow in becoming suspicious as they tried to reach Medrano on the phone.

But most troubling to the officials who reviewed the case was the failure by Im and Fuentes to make sure Medrano’s apartment was safe before letting her go inside.

It was a crucial mistake. Had they gone inside, it is likely they would have discovered Carlon or seen that the screen on a bathroom window had been forced off. In failing to search the apartment, Beck and the commissioners concluded in their reports, “the officers failed to perform the basic duty of protecting the public.”

Ultimately, Im took responsibility for the decision. He had reasoned that Carlon might be watching for Medrano and seeing police with her could scare him away. “We don’t want to burn the location by having police all over,” Im explained to investigators.

Police officials struggled with how harshly to discipline the officers. They had done more than the minimum required, which would have been to take a report and send Medrano on her way. And passing judgment in hindsight on officers who, as Beck acknowledged in his report, “are forced to make split-second decisions under very stressful and dynamic circumstances,” didn’t sit well with some. But a woman was dead.

Fuentes was absolved of responsibility because the rookie was taking directions from Im, his field training officer. Ruffalo was merely reprimanded since he wasn’t involved in the decisions at the apartment, according to officials familiar with the investigation. The department, the officials said, is planning to lower Im’s rank — a significant censure that carries a loss of pay and standing. He is expected to appeal the decision.

“We can’t just give officers a free pass because their intentions were good,” said a senior LAPD official, who requested anonymity because discipline cases are confidential. “Too much is at stake. People’s lives depend on what our officers do or don’t do.”


Flor Medrano’s funeral was attended by a few hundred people, family members said. Her favorite Norteño band traveled from Chicago to play ballads as she was buried. Medrano’s daughter, Mariana, now 5, lives with her father.


This article was based on information contained in records of the Los Angeles Police Department, Los Angeles County district attorney’s office and Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors, as well as interviews. The records include the LAPD’s official review, analysis and findings of the incident, and the Board of Police Commissioners’ findings of the incident. Officers Im and Fuentes and Det. Ruffalo declined to comment for the article.


Man gets beaned by LAPD bean bag shotgun

Monday, February 7, 2011

in Only Eastside 911

The LAPD has opened a use-of-force  investigation after an officer who responded to a street fight  in Highland Park late last week hit a man in the head with a bean bag fired from a shotgun.  The officer, Dan Gaglione, opened fire on a group of four men at Avenue 50 and York Boulevard Friday morning (Feb. 4) at about 2 a.m. after the group turned on officers who responded to the brawl, according to an LAPD statement released today. The three rounds of bean bags missed their intended target but hit one of the men in the group twice, once in the head. The man was taken to a hospital for treatment and was reported in stable condition.  The other men involved in the fight were released from custody and face potential disturbing the peace charges, police said.

How does a bean bag shotgun work? The LAPD explains:

The Department authorized the use of a Less Lethal Impact Weapon referred to as a Bean Bag Shotgun in 2002. This Less Lethal tool uses a “sock” round that is a small fabric bag filled with shot and deployed from a special shotgun. This tool is authorized to help control or temporarily incapacitated an aggressive individual who may be fighting or where there is an immediate threat to the public or officers.

An officer attempts to aim the sock round at the belt line or navel area of an individual to minimize injuries to vital organs while attempting to impact the suspect. This tool works similarly to the side handle baton that officers carry, only it provides an officer the ability to use it from a distance.

The LAPD uses the Less Lethal Beanbag Round numerous times each year to de escalate volatile incidents resulting in minimal injury, typically a bruise. However, it is very difficult to always anticipate the movement of the suspect during unfolding events and occasionally a serious injury may result.


L.A. defends officer who was fired for dishonesty

The family of an autistic man the policeman shot claims the death was wrongful, and the city attorney’s office is opposing that argument at trial. The LAPD had ousted the officer over a different case.

By Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times

January 21, 2011

In his short time as a Los Angeles police officer, Joseph Cruz earned a reputation as a hard-charging cop. He opted to work nights in a “very aggressive unit” in Hollywood, using force on suspects when the circumstances called for it, court records show. A supervisor once testified that he wished he had 40 officers just like Cruz.

The praise, however, soon turned to suspicion and later disbelief. In 2007, a witness said he saw the 25-year-old Cruz pistol-whip a suspect, leaving a bloody gash on the man’s head. Cruz claimed the man caused the injury himself by lifting his head into the butt of the gun. Ultimately, Cruz was fired for dishonesty after he gave shifting accounts of another detainee’s escape from his custody.

When Cruz went to court to try to get his job back, city lawyers told a judge the former officer’s “actions have damaged beyond repair his credibility.”

So it is a strange scene playing out this week in a federal courtroom in Los Angeles, where the LAPD and the same city attorney’s office that essentially denounced Cruz as a liar are now vouching for his credibility in a lawsuit alleging that he wrongly killed a man. They say Cruz’s actions in a 2008 shooting were justified, although they have reached that conclusion largely on the word of a man they say they don’t trust.

The awkward arrangement highlights the complications and inconsistencies that can arise for the LAPD and the city attorney’s office. The Police Department fires, suspends, or otherwise disciplines hundreds of officers for misconduct each year, while at the same time working with city lawyers to defend some of the same officers in civil lawsuits alleging wrongdoing.

“This is one of the messes that classically gets left behind when an officer is found to be corrupt,” said USC law professor Rebecca Lonergan, a former federal prosecutor.

The shooting at the center of the current lawsuit occurred in the darkness of a March morning in 2008. A few minutes before 4 a.m., Cruz and his partner were driving down Curson Avenue south of Sunset Boulevard when Cruz spotted Mohammed Usman Chaudhry lying behind some bushes in the shadows of an apartment building.

Chaudhry was a 21-year-old autistic man who sometimes wandered away from his parent’s home in favor of a transient existence on the streets in Hollywood. Cruz struck up a conversation with Chaudhry, who acted calmly and did not seem to pose a threat, police and court records show. It does not appear that Chaudhry’s behavior gave the officers an indication of his mental disorder. Cruz instructed his partner to return to the patrol car to run Chaudhry’s name through a computer database for any outstanding warrants. From where the vehicle was parked, his partner could not see Cruz and Chaudhry clearly, court and police records show.

According to Cruz’s account of the shooting contained in court and police records, Chaudhry suddenly reached into the front pocket of his sweatshirt, pulled out a knife with a nearly 4-inch blade and lunged at him. Cruz drew his gun and fired three shots in quick succession, and, with Chaudhry still on his feet, fired a fourth shot a second or two later. His partner saw Cruz fire only the fourth shot, and there were no other witnesses.

Three of the bullets struck Chaudhry in the chest area, killing him. Cruz was treated for a small cut on his hand that he said he suffered when he raised his arm to block Chaudhry’s attempt to stab him. A knife was recovered at the scene.

The Los Angeles Police Commission, a civilian board that oversees the LAPD and reviews all serious use-of-force cases, concluded that Cruz’s decision to use deadly force was justified. The board criticized Cruz and his partner for failing to search Chaudhry for weapons and for ignoring a basic tactical rule that requires one officer to always keep watch over his partner during a stop.

Chaudhry’s parents filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court against Cruz and the LAPD, alleging that their son’s civil rights were violated in the shooting.

In his opening statement to the jury Tuesday, a lawyer for the family made it clear he would try to cast doubt on Cruz’s trustworthiness and his account of the incident, in part by driving home the fact that the LAPD and city lawyers concluded he was not credible.

“Today’s case is about truth,” attorney Olu Orange said. “And the evidence will show that Joseph Cruz was fired from his position as an LAPD officer … that it was the city of Los Angeles that fired him … and the reason he was fired was that he was dishonest, that he would not tell the truth during an official investigation.”

The city has a strong interest in defending Cruz in court. If the jury awards the Chaudhry family monetary damages, it is likely — although not certain — that the city will be responsible for the cost since Cruz killed Chaudhry in the line of duty.

The city is paying Peter Ferguson, a private attorney, to defend Cruz in the case. Craig Miller, a deputy city attorney who specializes in defending LAPD officers, is also at the defense table. And an LAPD detective from the department’s Risk Management Section has served as Miller’s investigator on the case, helping him to build the case that Cruz’s account of the shooting is truthful.

Lawyers for the Chaudhry family are expected to focus, in part, on DNA evidence taken from the knife. Tests conducted for the LAPD found only one person’s DNA on the knife’s handle and blade, court records show. And Chaudhry’s DNA, the tests concluded, did not match the DNA on the knife.

Representatives from the LAPD and city attorney’s office refused requests for comment. Ferguson also declined to comment or let Cruz speak for this article.

The shooting came in the wake of two other incidents that put Cruz under scrutiny and eventually resulted in his being fired.

In April 2007, the pistol-whipping incident occurred, according to police records. Despite Cruz’s explanation that the wound had been accidentally caused by the suspect, the Police Commission concluded that the witness’ account was more credible and determined that Cruz had been unjustified in making the head strike. It does not appear that finding led the LAPD to open an investigation into whether Cruz had been dishonest with investigators.

Several months later, Cruz and a partner were sent to pick up a girl who had run away from a juvenile shelter, according to court records. On the drive back to the LAPD’s Hollywood area station, the girl escaped from the patrol car and fled.

During the investigation into the incident, Cruz offered the explanation that the girl, who was handcuffed, had thrown herself head-first out the window while the car was moving. And, in three interviews with investigators, he gave a changing account of what he did in the moments after she fled. At first, he said he had tried to contact a supervisor over his department radio. When investigators told Cruz there was no record of any radio transmission, he said he recalled that he had instead used his mobile phone to contact the station.

Department officials accused Cruz of oversights that led to the girl’s escape and of making false statements — a charge he denied. He went before a three-person disciplinary board, which included two LAPD captains. The two captains rejected Cruz’s explanations, found him guilty of dishonesty and recommended that he be fired.

“There are too many events that do not make sense, as explained by Officer Cruz, to give this board any confidence in his statement,” the captains concluded in their decision. Cruz, they wrote, had offered up a “calculated set of false facts” that amounted to a “concocted story.”

Copyright © 2011, Los Angeles Times


Bounty hunter shot by LAPD officer awarded nearly $1.2 million [Updated]

January 20, 2011 | 11:00 am

A bounty hunter shot and wounded by Los Angeles police who mistook him for a robber as he was taking a fugitive into custody has been awarded nearly $1.2 million by a federal jury.

Jurors earlier this month found Los Angeles Police Department Officer Daniel Pearce used “excessive force” when he shot Elvin Andre Gilbert in South L.A., where the bail recovery agent was detaining a bail jumper wanted on a felony.

The Nov. 30, 2005, shooting unfolded shortly before 9 p.m. and left Gilbert, who was working for a San Jose bail bonds company, in a drug-induced coma for several days from the gunshot wounds.

“I am glad it is over, and I’m happy with the jury’s decision,” said Gilbert, who continues to live with injuries he received.

[Updated at 1:21 p.m.: “I am very happy the jurors got to hear what really happened,” Gilbert said in a phone interview. “(The LAPD) made a lot of statements that contradicted the facts to try to justify the shooting.”]

Gilbert was shot after Pearce and his then-partner Officer Harlan Taylor heard a commotion near the 2100 block of East 99th Place and saw two men dressed in black confronting a Latino, holding his wrists behind his back and escorting him at gunpoint.

Officers said one of the men held a gun to the head of Isabino Vasquez, and they believed Gilbert and fellow bail agent Allen Badoya were committing a robbery or a kidnapping.

The officers, according to the LAPD, ordered Gilbert to drop the handgun, but Gilbert turned toward them, and Pearce shot him three times. One round hit the left side of Gilbert’s stomach and came out the right side, while another went through his right arm.

During a six-day trial, Gilbert’s attorney, Dale K. Galipo, presented witnesses who said Gilbert and his partner were about to escort the fugitive, and the gun was not raised when officers confronted them.

He also disputed the officers’ account that a warning was shouted before the shots were fired.

[Updated at 1:23 p.m.: “They shot me as soon as I stood up,” Gilbert said Thursday in a phone interview. “Once I was hit, it was lights out… I never saw the officers or heard them. I only knew they were police officers when they said they would blow my head off if I moved and began handcuffing me.”]

The wounded Gilbert was arrested for assault on an officer, and the LAPD guarded his hospital room for several days. The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s office declined to charge Gilbert.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Jan Ian Perlstein noted the “facts tend to indicate he turned toward the officer to see where the shooting was coming from.”

The jurors hearing the civil lawsuit found the LAPD officers did not have the required probable cause to arrest Gilbert. The jury Jan. 10 awarded Gilbert $1.165 million, including $365,000 for economic damages, $200,000 for physical pain, mental suffering and emotional distress and $600,000 for future  damages.

A deputy city attorney who handled the case did not return calls from the Times.

Attorneys for Gilbert told jurors the bounty hunters had warned an LAPD patrol unit the day before that they would be in the area seeking to detain a fugitive.

While Gilbert was in the hospital, lawyers for Gilbert alleged an LAPD officer guarding him and a detective questioned the bail agent as he was coming out of his coma, despite a request that such contact be made only with his lawyer present.

Read the Los Angeles Police Commission report on the shooting The jurors’ decision contradicts one by the Los Angeles Police Commission that found the use of force to be within department policy but that the officers’ tactics warranted further training. The commission was particularly concerned that when a crowd gathered after the shooting, one of the officers picked up the weapon Gilbert dropped and put it in his pocket but then placed it back — making it seem as though it was planted.

At the time of the shooting, eyewitness Elvonzo Cromwell told the Times the bounty hunters were dressed all in black and that Gilbert looked like a robber. Cromwell described a chaotic scene after the shooting, one witnessed by many bystanders.

He said he did not hear the police yell orders for Gilbert to drop his gun, but he said the man was holding a gun when he was shot. The police “came out of nowhere all of a sudden,” he said. He said a shot went over his head.

– Richard Winton


LAPD officers shoot (UNARMED) man [who had been]waving handgun on skid row

January 17, 2011 |  8:08 am

Los Angeles police shot and injured an armed man who was pointing his gun at bystanders on skid row in downtown L.A., authorities said Monday.

Officers were dispatched Sunday night to the 500 block of San Julian Street after a man apparently upset over his laptop being stolen grabbed a gun from a backpack on the sidewalk and began pointing it at people, including a woman in a wheelchair.

By the time police arrived, the man had gone up to the fourth floor of an apartment building, where officers found him after surrounding the building.

Police heard yelling from the room where he was hiding, indicating another person was with him. As officers formulated a plan to get the man out, he opened the door and suddenly stepped into the hallway, refusing to obey officers’ commands, authorities said.

Police shot the man, 33, in his legs. Officer Norma Eisenman said the man initially refused treatment.

Officers found a woman and a cocked semi-automatic handgun inside the room. The name of the suspect, who is expected to survive, has not been released.

— Robert Faturechi

(According to the LAPD ONLINE BLOG, it was a Replica handgun found inside the apartment.)


LAPD Financial Disclosure Laws Lead Dozens To Quit

THOMAS WATKINS 01/10/11 09:56 PM

LOS ANGELES — Dozens of anti-gang police officers across the city are quitting their assignments over a requirement to reveal personal financial information under strict anti-corruption rules, The Associated Press has learned.

Gang units in some of the city’s most violent neighborhoods are being left with multiple vacancies, with officers choosing instead to work regular patrol shifts, Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger said Monday.

One of the areas most affected is the city’s northeast division, which includes territory controlled by the notorious Avenues gang around Highland Park. Rather than fill in financial disclosure forms, most of the division’s anti-gang unit has decided to leave and return to patrol, resulting in an unspecified number of vacancies.

Paysinger and other police officials stressed the reassignments would not affect public safety. The former gang officers – along with their street smarts and gang expertise – would remain in the neighborhoods they had long served.

The main difference would be that, as regular patrol officers, they would not be able to use some of the investigative techniques they could as gang officers.

“The community should not be concerned,” Paysinger said. “We haven’t backed away from our gang enforcement posture.”

The deadline for officers to sign the LAPD’s financial disclosure forms is the end of March but many officers are letting their superiors know ahead of time that they are declining.

The rules were mandated by the U.S. Department of Justice after a scandal in the late 1990s involving misconduct by anti-gang officers from LAPD’s Rampart division.

The rules require gang and narcotics officers to reveal portions of their personal financial records to the department and are supposed to snare corrupt officers in units frequently handling cash or drugs.

The police officers’ union, the Los Angeles Police Protective League, has long faulted the requirements, saying they are onerous and sap morale, among other criticisms,

Paysinger said gang officers who chose to quit rather than fill in the forms did not have a full understanding of the policy, and said the financial disclosure forms were less intrusive than credit card applications

The departure of gang officers could put the cash-strapped department under additional pressure. Already, it has had to cut overtime to deal with a shrinking budget.

Despite this, the city last year recorded its lowest homicide rate in decades.