March 1, 2003
Los Angeles Police Review Big Scandal
OS ANGELES, Feb. 28 — The police scandal that has cost the city $40 million in settlements gained new force this week as the new police chief ordered an outside investigation and reports emerged that corrupt officers remained on the beat.
William J. Bratton, who became chief in October, called an internal review flawed and ordered an independent inquiry into accusations that officers planted guns and drugs, lied under oath and shot unarmed suspects. The Rampart scandal, named for the area where it originated, led to judges' overturning convictions or canceling charges in about 100 cases.
The scandal began in 1999, after Officer Rafael Perez was arrested in the theft of cocaine from an evidence locker and mentioned a case from 1996 in which officers shot and paralyzed a man.
Of 70 officers who were investigated, nine, including Mr. Perez and a former partner, Nino Durden, went to prison. In November, District Attorney Steve Cooley declined to prosecute 82 more cases, citing insufficient evidence and Mr. Durden and Mr. Perez's lack of credibility. But Chief Bratton called for a new inquiry, and transcripts of Mr. Durden's interviews with state and federal prosecutors in 2001 were released.