Los Angeles Police corruption investigated

By Tom Murlowski, Associate Director, November Coalition


In 1996 Javier Ovando was shot in the head and paralyzed after he fired upon three Los Angeles police officers. He went to prison, sentenced to 23 years for his crime.

After officer Rafael Perez, who was present at the shooting, was allegedly caught stealing about 600,000 pounds of seized cocaine from a police locker, a new story of the Ovando shooting was revealed.

Perez has traded testimony against his fellow officers for a lighter sentence, and now claims that Ovando was unarmed and shot in the head while he was lying on the floor in handcuffs.

This incident and other corroborated stories have touched off the largest corruption scandal and subsequent investigation in the history of the Los Angeles Police Department.

Investigators are probing at least seven other 'unjustified' shootings. At least 13 officers have been relieved of duty, with more incidents likely to surface as the internal scrutiny continues. Another 50 officers are known to be under suspicion, and almost 200 criminal prosecutions could be overturned.

The officers involved in the Ovando case may have been given orders to plant the weapon. A sergeant with the department's anti-gang unit allegedly instructed officers under his command to plant guns on unarmed suspects to back up a shooting or questionable arrest.

Brazen officers from the elite anti-gang unit known as CRASH (Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums) consistently imitated the street gangs they were supposed to be eliminating. Sporting gang tattoos, it has been alleged that 'death parties' were held to celebrate fatal shootings of suspects. They are accused of dealing drugs, robbing banks, framing innocent citizens, shooting unarmed civilians and lying under oath.

Other corruption cases under public scrutiny include: police officers supposedly rented an apartment for on-duty sexual liaisons with prostitutes also enlisted to sell drugs officers had stolen from dealers; a 35-year veteran Los Angeles police officer was arrested for possession of heroin he stole during a sting operation; another officer was allegedly caught stealing $600,000 worth of seized cocaine from a police locker; two Pasadena deputy city marshals, one reserve deputy, one police officer and two former police officers are charged with theft, burglary and manufacture/delivery of a controlled substance.

Amnesty International has sent representatives to Los Angeles to investigate these incidents, similar to others covered in its new report, "United States of America: Race, Rights and Police Brutality."

Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan and LA Police Chief Bernard C. Parks have publicly expressed their disgust at their officers' flagrant disregard for the law.

Even though Javier Ovando has been released from prison and is free now, he will be bound to a wheelchair for the rest of his life. A day of reckoning is due this victim. Ending the Drug War would restrain the police violence and corruption of which Javier Ovando and countless other victims have greatly suffered.