Pubdate: Wed, 08 Nov 2000
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Los Angeles Times
Contact:  Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Fax: (213) 237-7679
Author: Tina Daunt, Times Staff Writer
Bookmark: L.A. Rampart Scandal


Rampart: Council Approves Settlement Despite Claim By Disgraced Officer
Perez That The Arrest On Drug Charge Was Valid.

The Los Angeles City Council on Tuesday approved a $900,000 settlement for a
man who claims he spent 7 1/2 years in prison on a false drug charge
concocted by former Los Angeles Police Officer Rafael Perez.

Although Perez, who pleaded guilty to cocaine theft charges as part of a
plea bargain, maintains that the 1992 arrest of Lorenzo Irving was valid,
the district attorney's office believed there was enough evidence that
warranted overturning the man's conviction. As a result, the city attorney's
office crafted the settlement with Irving, who was ordered released from
prison in February. The council voted 10 to 1 to accept the settlement.

Based on the length of Irving's detention, the $900,000 settlement seemed
like "a very good deal" for the city, said Mike Qualls, a spokesman for the
city attorney's office.

Since April, Los Angeles lawmakers have approved spending $2.18 million to
settle five Rampart related cases, including Irving's.

Earlier this week, attorneys' disclosed that they intend to ask the City
Council to ratify a deal that calls for paying $10.9 million to settle 29
federal civil rights lawsuits arising from the police scandal. That package
is expected to go to the council next week.

Councilman Joel Wachs was the only city lawmaker to vote against the Irving
settlement Tuesday. He said he wanted more evidence that Irving had been
falsely accused.

"It was a very murky case," Wachs said. "If the guy is innocent and served 7
1/2 years in jail, then no amount of money could compensate for it. "On the
other hand, the problem with this is it is one that Perez did not identify
as a bad case and in fact said was a clean arrest."

Councilman Mike Feuer, however, said he believes there was sufficient
support to settle the case.

"The analysis of the city attorney and the Police Department led me to
conclude that settling the case is the fair thing to do here and the thing
that is most likely to protect scarce taxpayer dollars," Feuer said. "This
is someone who was ordered released from prison and who professed his
innocence at every possible hearing.

"This is a case that should be settled. It is time for all the parties to
reach closure."

Now, there are 90 other Rampart-related cases and 80 claims pending against
the city.
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