Pubdate: Fri, 31 Mar 2000
Source: Los Angeles Times (CA)
Copyright: 2000 Los Angeles Times
Contact:  213-237-4712
Address: Times Mirror Square, Los Angeles, CA 90053
Author: Scott Glover, Matt Lait, Times Staff Writers
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LAPD: Authorities are investigating alleged misconduct by Central,
77th and Southeast officers, including false arrests, planting of
drugs and an unjustified shooting.

The Los Angeles Police Department's corruption probe has spread beyond
the boundaries of the gritty Rampart Division and now includes alleged
crimes or misconduct in at least three other areas of the city,
according to interviews and documents obtained by The Times.

Internal LAPD and district attorney's documents show for the first
time that authorities are exploring allegations that police crimes or
misconduct occurred in the department's Central, 77th and Southeast

As in Rampart, the allegations include officers planting drugs, making
false arrests and covering up at least one unjustified shooting.

Although LAPD Chief Bernard C. Parks and Dist. Atty. Gil Garcetti have
said they will follow the worst police corruption scandal in city
history wherever it leads, neither official has yet publicly
acknowledged that the allegations under investigation extend beyond

On Thursday Cmdr. David J. Kalish, the department's spokesman,
confirmed that the alleged corruption was more widespread.

"Apparently we had two officers assigned to Rampart who transferred to
another division and took their bad habits with them," he said. "There
are other serious acts of misconduct that we have uncovered . . . in
various parts of the department, but they are isolated and there is no
nexus to the Rampart corruption."

One indication that the probe has moved beyond Rampart was hinted at
in letters that prosecutors sent to the LAPD earlier this month during
the high-profile squabble between the two agencies over access to
investigative material. Deputy Dist. Atty. Richard Rosenthal--a key
member of the prosecution's anti-corruption team--wrote to the LAPD on
March 16 requesting internal affairs files on Southeast Division
Officers Jeffrey Robb and William Ferguson and Central Division
Officers Christopher Coppock and David Cochrane. The letter did not
provide details about the files being sought.

But according to other documents obtained by The Times, Robb and
Ferguson, who transferred to Southeast from Rampart, are under
investigation for a variety of alleged crimes and misconduct.

Ferguson is facing internal discipline in connection with a Feb. 15,
1999, incident in which he allegedly entered a residence without
probable cause, searched it without a warrant, threatened to plant
crack cocaine on a suspect, intimidated a witness and falsely arrested
a man whom he had challenged to a fight, documents show.

In a separate charge, Ferguson is accused of keeping a handgun replica
in his LAPD duffel bag. Investigators on the corruption task force
suspect that officers kept such items on hand to plant in the event
they shot an unarmed suspect.

Ferguson has been relieved of duty, pending a hearing--in essence an
LAPD trial--before a so-called board of rights. He could not be
reached for comment.

Robb resigned from the department amid allegations that he submitted a
false arrest report Jan. 22, 1999, and then made false and misleading
statements to a supervisor on the same day, documents show. Before
that, Robb was suspended as the result of an excessive force violation
in 1998 in which he allegedly kicked a suspect several times. Robb
could not be reached for comment.

In his letter, Deputy Dist. Atty. Rosenthal also requested Internal
Affairs Division files on former Officers Coppock and Cochrane.

Those officers were sued in federal court in December by a 33-year-old
man who alleges that they beat him and framed him during a 1997 arrest
in the Central Division.

In the suit, Jimmy Lee Render said he was standing with a group of
people near East 5th Street and South Crocker Avenue when the two
officers ordered them up against a wall. Render said he ran because he
thought he had an outstanding warrant for drinking in public and did
not want to be arrested.

He said that the officers caught him, that Coppock put him on the
ground and that Cochrane hit him several times in the head. After
taking him to their patrol car, Render said, the officers asked him if
he had any drugs or weapons.

"When he replied, 'Nothing,' the officers stated that when he got to
the station he was going to have some drugs," according to a writ
filed by Deputy Public Defender Dennis Plourd.

Coppock and Cochrane denied any wrongdoing in the Render arrest. Both
have since left the LAPD amid serious, but unrelated, misconduct
complaints. Coppock resigned after he was accused of a false arrest in
another case.

Cochrane was fired for making false and misleading statements during
an internal LAPD investigation, officials said. At the time, he was
also facing internal allegations of planting cocaine on another arrestee.

Neither of the ex-officers could be reached for comment.

Potentially the most troubling allegation of misconduct outside the
Rampart area involves a rumored bad shooting by anti-gang officers in
the 77th Street Division.

Prosecutors recently requested investigative documents from the LAPD
pertaining to that shooting, which ex-Officer Rafael Perez, who is now
acting as an informant as part of a plea bargain, claims was widely
known in CRASH circles to be unjustified. Although Perez could not
recall details of the shooting, documents obtained by The Times show
that it occurred Feb. 21, 1998, and involved a suspected gang member
named Anthony Dickson. According to an internal report on the
shooting, two officers from the CRASH anti-gang unit in the 77th
Division were attempting to stop and question Dickson, who allegedly
ignored their demands and tried to flee. One officer reportedly saw
that Dickson was armed with an assault rifle and believed he had a
handgun in his waistband. At some point, Dickson turned toward one
officer, took a semi-crouched position and pointed the barrel of the
assault rifle at him, the report alleges. The officer fired two rounds
at Dickson, striking him in the leg. Though he was hit, Dickson
continued to flee, but collapsed a short distance later and was arrested.

The report states that a magazine with live ammunition was recovered
but that the rifle was never found. Chief Parks, in the report, was
highly critical of the officers' tactics, but found the shooting to be
within departmental policy.

According to the report, Sgt. Edward Ortiz responded to the scene of
the shooting and helped officers recover evidence. Ortiz is a key
figure in the corruption investigation who, according to Perez, helped
cover up unjustified shootings in Rampart.

As investigators attempt to define the limits of the corruption within
the LAPD, prosecutors were back in court Thursday seeking to undo
wrongs that already have been detected.

In what has become a near routine occurrence, Superior Court Judge
Larry P. Fidler threw out the cases of four more people wrongly
convicted because of alleged police misconduct. That action brought to
50 the number of cases set aside since the scandal broke in September.
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