Nearly four years after a police officer told investigators that corruption and brutality had become commonplace at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division, authorities acknowledge that they did not get to the bottom of his allegations and that officers suspected of committing crimes remain on the job, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Feuding among top officials, cursory investigations by some detectives and a pervasive police “code of silence” all helped to undermine the Rampart probe, concluded an investigation by the newpaper.
Asked if he was satisfied that the LAPD had thoroughly investigated the scandal, Police Commissioner Rick Caruso, responded: “No – quite the opposite.” Bill Hodgman, a top prosecutor, said his “greatest frustration is that I don’t feel like we got to the bottom of it.”
Newly obtained confidential documents, internal correspondence from the Los Angeles Police Department and the district attorney’s office and interviews with more than a dozen prosecutors and detectives have shed new light on why the Rampart investigation fell short.
They reveal that: Police and prosecutors, who were supposed to be working together, instead fought almost from the start; Over the objections of prosecutors, LAPD detectives forced officers suspected of committing crimes to cooperate with administrative investigations, which meant their statements could not be used against them in court; judges overturned the convictions of more than 100 defendants because of alleged criminal conduct by police. But the officers responsible were charged in only a handful of those cases; last year, District Attorney Steve Cooley disbanded a Rampart task force with a report that minimized the extent of the scandal and failed to address many of the original allegations.
Because the LAPD never has provided a full accounting of its actions in the case, the Police Commission and Chief William J. Bratton agreed to have a panel of outsiders, headed by civil rights lawyer Connie Rice, review the LAPD’s handling of the Rampart investigation.