Pubdate: Thu, 10 Aug 2000
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Los Angeles Times
Contact:  Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Fax: (213) 237-4712
Author: Scott Glover, Matt Lait, Times Staff Writers
Bookmark: MAP's shortcut to LAPD corruption items is:


LAPD: Prosecutors' witness in Valley crime says the officer, a key figure 
in the scandal, pressured him into identifying suspect.

Prosecutors in a San Fernando Valley murder case have dropped charges
after their only eyewitness said he was pressured into identifying the
defendant by an LAPD sergeant who has since been charged with
unrelated crimes in the Rampart corruption scandal, lawyers said Wednesday.

Charges were dropped against defendant Paymen Patrick Parvizi after
the prosecution's chief witness came to court Tuesday and told the
deputy district attorney handling the case that he could not identify
Parvizi as the gunman in the July 5, 1999, slaying in Canoga Park, the
lawyers said.

Attorney Sherwin Edelberg, who represents the witness, Adrian Canley,
an acquaintance of the dead man, said police repeatedly pressured
Canley into falsely identifying Parvizi as the killer.

Canley also told the prosecutor that the investigators in the case,
Sgt. Brian Liddy and Det. Brad Cochran, misrepresented his statements
in their reports related to the homicide investigation, lawyers in the
case said.

Canley hired an attorney because he resented the way he was treated by
police and did not want to be put in a position of having to
contradict them if he were called to the witness stand in the midst of
a trial, Edelberg said.

"This man really has a conscience," the lawyer added.

Det. Cochran declined to comment for this story. Liddy's attorney said
he was unaware of the most recent allegations against his client and,
therefore, could not comment.

Deputy Dist. Atty. Kateri Modder, the prosecutor in the case, also was
unavailable for comment.

Victoria Pipkin, a district attorney's spokeswoman, said, "the
district's attorney's office was unable to proceed, due to the ongoing
Rampart investigation and proceedings." She said the decision to drop
the case does not preclude prosecutors from pursuing the charges in
the future.

Prosecutors were hamstrung in the case against Parvizi when Liddy was
relieved of duty from the LAPD for allegedly framing people while
working in the Rampart Division, where he served in the same anti-gang
unit as ex-cop-turned-informant Rafael Perez.

Choosing not to call Liddy as a witness because his status calls his
credibility into question left prosecutors unable to use a statement
in which Parvizi allegedly admitted to Liddy that he was at the scene
of the shooting and confronted the victim.

Deputy Public Defender Daryne P. Nicole, however, said Parvizi never
made any such statement.

"This is not a case of a guilty man going free because of Rampart, but
the case of an innocent man who stayed in jail for more than a year
because of corrupt police officers trying to frame him," Nicole said.

Nicole praised Modder, the prosecutor, for "carefully examining the
case and doing the right thing" by dismissing it.

Public Defender Michael P. Judge assailed the alleged police tactics
in the case. "This is one in a number of cases that have resulted in
the Los Angeles Police Department becoming notorious for the grotesque
pressuring of witnesses who are unable to make an identification,"
Judge said.

Judge said the actual identification of suspects by eyewitnesses
should be overseen by police officers other than those responsible for
investigating a particular case. "This cries out for reform," he said.

The case against Parvizi resulted from the shooting death of Francisco
Escobar. According to police, Escobar and Canley--the eyewitness--had
just come from a late night Fourth of July party where they had been
drinking and were breaking into cars parked along Independence Avenue
near Gresham Street in Canoga Park.

According to police reports, Canley told investigators that Escobar
was trying to break into a dull-colored Chevrolet El Camino when a
woman shouted at them and called out for the owner. Seconds later a
man appeared, yelling at Escobar to get out of his car, police reports

Canley said the man was carrying a gun, aimed it at him and fired. He
fled unharmed, but Escobar was fatally wounded and collapsed in the
street, according to police documents.

At one point during his investigation, Liddy was able to locate a man
named David Cost who said he had a conversation with Parvizi and that
Parvizi admitted to shooting Escobar, police reports show.

Cost, however, has since alleged that Liddy coerced him into
implicating Parvizi, saying that the detective threatened to arrest
him for a parole violation if he did not cooperate, according to
defense lawyers.

After the alleged statement by Cost, Liddy interviewed Parvizi, police
records state. Liddy contends that Parvizi made several incriminating
statements about the murder in his presence. For instance, Liddy said
in police reports that the tattooed ex-con began crying as he was
being booked into jail, saying, "that mother . . . broke into my car
and that is why I went out there."

As for Canley, police alleged that he was able to make a tentative
identification of Parvizi. Canley told police that the photograph of
Parvizi "looks like" the gunman he saw that night, police documents

But that identification was under question, even before Canley came
forward this week to complain about the investigators' conduct. At the
beginning of the taped interview, Canley can be heard asking
detectives: "Are you going to show me that picture now?"

Canley now contends that he was unable to identify the gunman from any
of the photographs he was shown by detectives. Canley said Parvizi's
physical build resembled that of the gunman he saw that night, but he
could not identify Parvizi as the assailant.

Canley "resented the way he was treated by police. It's too bad he
felt he had to get his own attorney," Edelberg said.

Canley's allegations are the latest to raise questions concerning
Liddy's credibility. Liddy was arrested in April along with two
colleagues on charges that they conspired to frame an innocent man on
gun possession violation four years ago. In July, prosecutors filed
additional charges Liddy, alleging that he helped frame two other men.

According to Perez--the ex-officer at the center of the corruption
scandal, Liddy was part of a cadre of anti-gang officers who framed
people and falsified police reports.

Following his time in the Rampart CRASH unit, Liddy transferred to
Devonshire Division to work as a detective.
- ---
MAP posted-by: Richard Lake