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sgt. brian liddy

After joining the force in 1990, Liddy was awarded the department's Medal of Valor for a shoot-out during the Rodney King riots. In 1995, Liddy joined Rampart CRASH, at the same time as Rafael Perez, who would later implicate Liddy in several instances of police misconduct. Liddy was one of the first Rampart officers charged criminally by the District Attorney. A jury convicted Liddy of conspiracy to obstruct justice and filing false police reports, but the trial judge subsequently dismissed the conviction. That decision is on appeal. FRONTLINE interviewed Liddy on February 8, 2001.
The Rampart Division

What was your first assignment when you joined the L.A.P.D. in 1990?

Rampart.

What is Rampart?

Rampart is the name of a geographic division located in downtown Los Angeles, just west of the tall buildings downtown, the MacArthur Park area, up as far as Sunset, and down as far as the I-10 freeway on the south. It's real densely populated--a lot of old apartment buildings. Old, old hotels that have been converted into Section 8-type housing, that type of stuff.

What sort of people live there? What do you see on a drive through Rampart?

It's a large Hispanic immigrant community. A lot of El Salvadorians, Guatemalans, Hondurans, some of the Cubans left over from the 1980s, when there was a large Cuban population in Rampart. And there's a large transient population.

When I got out of the academy in the summer of 1990, the crime trend was kind of at its peak in Los Angeles in 1990, 1991. The Rampart Division had in the ballpark of 150 murders a year inside the division, which was about, at that time, about eight and a half square miles. There was a lot of violence, a lot of narcotics activity. Gang activity. Rampart was an open-air supermarket for drugs, on practically every corner. MacArthur Park looked like a giant transient campground.

At that time, the Metro rail was going in. The pond, the lake, had to be drained at MacArthur Park. All the people were moved out of MacArthur Park, and they took up residence in the streets and alleys surrounding MacArthur Park. And once again, everything was attributed to the narcotics and the gangs. Crack was at its heyday. Everybody on the street was on crack cocaine, as a manner of speaking, and that's what ruled the streets.

A dangerous, violent place.

Within that community, yes. There were other streets in Rampart where you didn't get a call. But if the narcotics and the gangs were involved, it would be busy. There were plenty of streets in Rampart where you didn't get on them unless it was for a traffic accident or a family dispute or something of that nature--normal police stuff. But the core of Rampart around MacArthur Park was, for all purposes, a war zone. . . .

CRASH

What is a CRASH unit?

It varies from size to size, and from division to division. It stands for Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums. It's called a specialized unit. The primary mission of the CRASH unit is to gather intelligence on the criminal street gangs that exist within their geographic division and to monitor their activities.

There are kind of two sides to it. There's the intelligence side, where you kind of got to know all these people by their nicknames, where they hang out, what kind of cars they drive. Then there's the crime suppression mode, where you're out trying to keep them from doing drive-bys and robberies and extortion, spray painting the buildings--the criminal end of their involvement.

You're a cop. You have a chance to get on a CRASH unit. What's it like? What's the perception of a CRASH unit?

A CRASH unit is a good job. As far as going to work every day, you're not tied to the radio or the computer. As a rule, you're not going to domestic violences and traffic accidents and all the day-to-day business of a policeman in any city. You're just dealing with gang members. You're not being assigned radio calls unless it strictly pertains to gang activity. You're supervised, but you're supervised at a different level. You're expected to be mature, responsible, go out there and do what you're supposed to do. The supervisors make sure that you're doing that.

Perez was making all kinds of crazy allegations.... He was saying that we shot people, beat people, planted evidence.... A lot of different tasks go with it. The CRASH unit would be tasked with a lot of different events. If there's a concert at MacArthur Park, the CRASH unit would be deployed to try and keep the gang element out of the park. We know who the gangsters are, even if they don't come dressed up in their gang attire. We're able to look over and say, "Oh, that's so and so from the such and such gang. Keep an eye on him, see what he's up to." . . .

As a CRASH officer, you're assigned to a specific gang. I wouldn't give any gang the benefit of saying their name in an interview, but let's say the "ABC" gang. I get assigned to the ABC gang. It's my job to know who's in that gang, what their nicknames are, where their girlfriend's pad is, what kind of cars they ride around in, what their tattoos are, where mom lives. So when the heat's on, we know that they go to mom's house over in another neighborhood. We get to know as much [as possible] about that gang. That includes knowing the history of the gang--how it started, where it originated, how it came to be, what the gang is all about.

Some gangs are into stolen cars. Some gangs are into dope. Some gangs are into robberies. Some gangs are into burglaries. Then the bigger gangs have different cells--this group of gangsters sells dope, this group of gangsters does this. You need to know all that to be an expert on the gang that you're assigned to.

How can you ever relate enough to a gangster to be able to understand them?

You go out and you talk to them every day, eight hours a day. That's what your job is in CRASH is: get out and get into these gangsters and talk to them on a daily basis. That's how you get to know them.

Are you ever able to actually sort of know them, to just know them as human beings?

Yes, absolutely. Drive up in parking lots, they'll come up to the car. "Hey, Liddy, what's going on?" "Hey, guys, what's happening?" They know you. They'll tell you, "Hey, you were off for two days. Where you been? You got a new car." They know everything about you because, to a certain extent, they're trying to do the same thing. They know when you come around, if you're always around, if you're sneaky when you come around or if you make a lot of noise when you come around.

And they're going to gauge you as an officer. They know the CRASH officer's different than the patrol officers. You get out and it's a fine line of keeping the balance. But you get out, just you and your partner, and you'll stop ten gangsters on their turf. You'll pat them down, make sure they don't have any guns or anything; then you'll talk to them. "What's going on? What are you guys doing? Hey, we heard that so-and-so got killed last week. What happened?" "Oh, those fools from the other neighborhood drove by and shot him." "Hey, when's his funeral?" "We don't know yet, because we don't have enough money to bury him. His family can't afford to bury him. We're having a car wash on Tuesday." So you speak to them, and you find out what's going on in that neighborhood.

There's times that you pull up and you say, "Hey, how's your mom?" because you knew mom was in the hospital. You knew that a brother got hit by a car. You might have one kid who's a hard core-gangster and the rest of his brothers and sisters are good kids, and you'll talk to him about that. But mostly you're talking to them about the gang, what's going on in the gang. "Who are you feuding with? Who's doing drive-bys on you? Who's your enemies? What's happening with the Mexican mafia? Are they still taxing you? Are you still paying taxes to the Mexican mafia?"

Now, the other end from the intelligence is you're getting radio calls. They're spray painting buildings. They're drinking and breaking the glass in the street. They're taxing people. And by taxing people, if you've got a little pushcart down in MacArthur Park and you're wheeling it around on the 18th Street side of the park, you're paying 18th Street a certain amount of dollars to have your pushcart. If you've got a little store on Alvarado Boulevard, you're paying 18th Street X number of dollars to have your little store.

If you're a dope dealer at MacArthur Park and you're not an 18th Street dope dealer, you're getting your dope from 18th Street, you're giving 18th Street a piece of the action. And that's the way it's going to be. Otherwise, you will get shot or you will get beaten.

So you were saying that, on the intelligence side, you mentioned there are people doing graffiti. One gathers that graffiti is not merely just an urban art form, that in fact there was much that a CRASH officer could learn from the graffiti. Tell me about that.

One of the things you do when you're driving around. . . A typical CRASH day would be go to roll call, conduct business, get out in the field, try and grab something to eat, and go to your neighborhood, to what gangs you were assigned to drive around. It's almost like reading the paper. You drive through, and you see who's spray painting the wall in front of the apartment, because what they're doing is, they're claiming their territory. You go by this apartment building and you've got the gang name up. You've got ten names underneath it--that's the ten guys that were out last night when you went home, if that wasn't there the day before.

What you might see is a gang throws up another gang's name, crosses it out, crosses it out, maybe wrote somebody's name and crossed it out. You go over to Homicide and you say, "Hey, did so-and-so get killed?" "He got shot last night in a drive-by." "Well, you know what? This gang might have done it, because his name was up on the wall over here, and then they crossed it out. And here's the list of the dummies that then wrote their nicknames next to it." That's the mentality that exists. Then these idiots are sitting in the interview room with you going, "Hey, how did you know it was me?" I don't know.

It tells you who's coming through the neighborhood. If you go to the red gang's neighborhood and the green gang has came through, you will see their graffiti. They'll cross out the red gang's graffiti. They will then put up their own stuff. The red gang will now come by, cross out the green graffiti, put up their stuff. . . . Put a challenge right there. The green gang will come back. This will go on back and forth for days, weeks. Sometimes that's all that ever happens. But at other times, these guys will sit up and lay in wait. When the green gang comes through, the red gang opens up on them and shoots them because they were on their turf. It's all about turf and challenges and lots of imaginary feuds.

What was your scariest moment as a CRASH cop?

I think the scariest moments are when somebody else calls for help and you don't know what's going on, and you're trying to get there. Officers report shots fired. They're taking rounds or something like that. You're going to the help call, and you don't know if some cop you know is laying bleeding, some cop is hurt. Something like that. And there's times you get shot at. Then, of course, those are scary.

Did you wear a vest every day?

Yes.

That's just standard issue routine stuff for a CRASH cop, right?

Yes. It depends. [You never know, there could be a] guy from a gang that you know and you talk to on a daily basis. He'll stop and he'll call you by name, "Hey, Liddy, what's up?" On this wrong day, he's just coming from having done some heinous crime, and you go, "Hey, come here, Droopy," and he turns and wheels on you with a gun. So that's the fine line you're talking about when you deal with these gangsters. You go out there, and you have to almost be on a cordial basis with them while you talk to them and what's going on in the neighborhood.

But that little group that was sitting there when you pulled up to be planning on committing an armored car robbery, a bank robbery, store robbery, a drive-by shooting--you don't know what they're up to. Usually you know when something's the matter, because you pull up on these guys every day of the week, and all of a sudden today you pull up on them, and they're all running. It's like something's the matter. They just did something or getting ready to do something. They have guns. . . .

Give me a sense of whether or not the work you all were doing in CRASH was effective at all.

In some ways, yes. The problem is that there's no shortage of young people who are joining the gangs. If you live in Rampart, for example, you're either going to be in the gang or not be in the gang. Well, if you're not in the gang, you don't have a whole lot to do, because the gangsters are outside your house. The gangsters are the ones playing soccer on the street while the dope is being sold. There's been cases of kids trying to stay out of the gangs getting beat every day in and out of their house until they join a gang.

But through a combination of things, CRASH being one part of it, I think there was an impact on the quality of life in Rampart Division, in the level of violence and the level of crime that the gangs were participating in. As the department grew in strength, the CRASH unit was able to be beefed up. We had more officers assigned full time to the CRASH duties, as well as you had more officers patrolling the gang neighborhoods. Then there's all the other things at play--why crime goes up and why crime goes down.

But was there ever a statistical way of the success or lack of success?

Well, in 1990, I believe Rampart had right around 150 murders in the division. In 1997, it was down to about 33.

That's a significant drop.

When I left Rampart, in the afternoon, people would take their kids to the park and play at Rampart. When I had first went to Rampart, nobody took their kids to the park. So the quality of life in those eight years had changed drastically in Rampart. Crime was down. The gangs were nowhere near as bold as they had been. They had taken to staying in the back of the buildings and not showing their face, because they could expect to get visited by the CRASH officers.

Generally speaking, the quality of life is improving for the citizens of Rampart. Generally speaking, did you get a sense that the work you all were doing was appreciated by the folks who lived there?

Absolutely. There was constant phone calls to the police station. We had a phone at the station that, when we weren't there, it had an answering machine. And people would call in and they'll thank you "for taking those gangsters away from the front of my house." The people lived in real fear of these gangs. . . .

Did you all feel like you were part of an elite team?

Yes, we were special--not in the sense that we were better than anybody. But we were a specialized unit. We got to drive unmarked cars versus driving the black-and-white. We weren't tied to the regular radio call stuff. We got to pick and choose what we wanted to do, to a certain extent. Do we want to go to that call or not? You were sought out by other officers for gang questions. . . .

Tell me about the CRASH logo I've seen--aces and eights.

It was there when I got to the unit. I didn't know what it was. I heard it was a dead man's hand. I didn't know what a dead man's hand was. It was like a white skull with a cowboy hat on it, with the regular Rampart castle on the cowboy hat, and four cards that I guess are the dead man's hand. When all this Rampart controversy started is really the first whole story of the logo that I heard. I just knew it was on our T-shirts.

It was the CRASH unit insignia. When you worked at 77th, it was Yosemite Sam with two pistols and a 77th on his hat. Every division has a little something different. Most of the major units in the city have some type of unit logo, a patch, even the divisions.

And would the department have known about this? Or was it something you all had to keep sort of hidden?

No, everybody knew about it. They sold the patch at the academy store. . . .

Rafael Perez

How did Ray Perez strike you when you first met him?

The first time I met Ray, I believe, is the first day in CRASH. I was introduced to him. Didn't know who he was. He was quiet, low-key. But everybody's quiet and low-key when you're the new guy. . . .

He was there before you, wasn't he?

No, we went in on the same day.

The same exact day?

Yes.

So here you are, these two new cops. Tell me how you all fit in together. Did you hang in the same crowd? Did you run together or what?

I knew him, and I might have seen him around the station, but [he was] not anybody that I really knew. . . . He got along with everybody. He was a likeable guy. . . .

So as far as you know, you and Ray Perez got along fine?

Yes.

Was he a good cop?

By all appearances, yes.

Was there any reason before the events that played out--the spectacular circumstance that brings us here, but just in the course of when you all were working CRASH--was there ever any reason to feel that there was a little something off about Ray Perez? Or that there was perhaps something going on that wasn't apparent on the job, or anything like that?

No, nothing. No glaring, big red flags, no warnings. . . . Ray was a real b.s.'er. He could sell ice to the Eskimos. He talked to people good on the street. He didn't have a reputation as a thug, of being quick with the baton or anything like that. He was quick with his mouth. He could talk a guy into jail. And that's what you need in CRASH.

He'd be talking about going to Vegas or doing this and it was like it's not that unusual for anybody. There was nothing at the time to make you think that later when everything happens . . . never in a million years would I have suspected that Ray Perez was stealing dope and doing all the things that he basically has admitted to. I just never would have seen it. He made arrests. He appeared to make good arrests. He'd come in with bad guys who had guns and had dope, and they weren't even guys that maybe want to be gangsters. He was bringing in hard-core bad gangsters, parolees. From where I sat, he was doing his job.

So what is the reaction when you hear that one of your colleagues, not just a guy you've run into at Rampart, but one of your colleagues you've actually worked with and been on crime scenes with, Ray Perez, is being investigated for stealing cocaine? What's the word around the place when that gets out?

I had left Rampart. I'd promoted to detective, transferred out before any of that happened. . . . I found out at work. "Hey, a guy from Rampart CRASH got arrested." I was like, "What? Who?" And they said some guy named Perez. I thought the next thing would be that it must have something to do with the bank robbery. . . . In the news, there were the stories about how he was arrested for his involvement in stealing cocaine from the evidence room and stuff. I was surprised.

Was there ever an acceptance, a condoning, a kind of quiet acquiescence of stretching the technical aspects of the rules a little bit in a unit like CRASH where it's not so easy, where it's not cut-and-dried, ordinary run-of-the-mill sorts of arrests? An occasional stretch about probable cause, for example? Those sorts of things. Was that accepted within CRASH?. . .

It's not accepted within the Los Angeles Police Department in any [unit]. . . One of the greatest things about the Los Angeles Police Department is that it holds its head up high, because it doesn't have any real corruption problems, so to speak of. It's an honest police department. It can be called a lot of things. But until now, it's never been called a dishonest police department.

Did you ever hear of, see, sense, or suspect somebody making up probable cause?

No.

Did you ever see or hear or suspect somebody laying down a gun on a suspect?

Absolutely not.

So as far as you knew, neither you nor Ray Perez nor anybody on your unit that you actually witnessed or heard of was involved in force corruption?

No. Policing a place like Rampart, there's no need for starters. It's right there under your nose. I mean, you drive down a street and these guys are just standing out with a bag of dope in their hand waving at cars. You're sitting at traffic lights, and guys walk across the street in front of you with a rifle in their hands. You don't need to fabricate anything.

These people are dumb as a pile of rocks as far as common sense when they go out on the street. They're stoned, they're under the influence of God knows what. Every day, you get a surprise as to how stupid these guys are, because they're cunning about their crimes. They can't spell their name, but they can plan out a robbery of how to go in the back door or how to do a burglary and silence the alarm and all this neat trick stuff. But they go driving down the boulevard at three o'clock in the morning in a stolen BMW with the window smashed out of it, and they can't understand how they got caught. So for the element that we were policing, to need to make stuff up and stretch stuff--it just it wasn't even necessary.

On a different sort of corruption--there came to be a police officer, David Anthony Mack, arrested for a bank robbery. What was the response to that among police?

Well, the first typical response always is did he do it? But if he did it, the reaction in the police department was that you should be taken out to a streetlight and strung up. There's no condoning of that. The press hypes this code of silence all the time, that there's a code of silence. There is no code of silence in the Los Angeles Police Department. You do something dishonest, your partner will turn you in. Your partner will handcuff you and drag you into the police station. It's an honest police department. . . .

The Lyga-Gaines Shoot-Out

So it must have been striking when you all heard, for example, about the story of Officer Lyga, a narcotics officer, driving down the street one day. He has this bizarre encounter with a very menacing-looking fellow, who turned out to be Kevin Gaines. Do you remember that incident? What was the buzz on that story as you all heard it?

It was an incident that was kept under wraps, to a certain extent. You knew what you heard in the press. As the story comes out, you find out that Gaines is involved in all kinds of questionable activity in his off-duty and personal life, as to who he's dating and who he's living with, his affiliation with criminal enterprises. If he's out living like a gangster and acting like a gangster, he made the fatal mistake of acting like a gangster with an undercover policeman, and he paid the ultimate price for it--if that's what happened.

I know Frank Lyga. Frank Lyga is a great guy. Frank Lyga did what he had to do. I think that, otherwise, Kevin Gaines would have shot Frank Lyga. His mistake.

You had, in fact, what appeared to be a gangsta cop threatening a police officer and, as you say, he pays for it with his life. It was a bad mistake on his part. And yet, the aftermath was apparently wasn't so much just an uproar and dismay over the fact that there might have been a gangsta cop, but rather a kind of controversy over the fact that Frank Lyga, a white officer, shot a black officer. What was the response to that? What was your feeling about that?

There's an element that always exists that, whenever you introduce race into it with the police department, race is the only factor that happened. The cops just shot him because he was black. The cops just did this because he was black. The cops just did this because he was Hispanic, Asian; and it goes on down the list. There's always these special interest groups that bring their voice to the forefront, and the media rushes to give them all the camera time they want.

Gaines got killed because he was acting like an idiot, and he got what he deserved, as far as I'm concerned. That's not a popular statement, I don't think, but, hey, he pointed a gun at a guy on the street that he thought he was going to intimidate and he was going to act like a gangster with. The problem is that person was an undercover policeman who fired first and saved himself. . . . This idiot's pointing a gun at a policeman, and he got the end result. There's nothing else to it. Black, white, don't matter. If Kevin Gaines had survived, we may have a different perspective on it, but I believe Frank Lyga's account. I know that the guy was investigated every way and sideways and put through the wringer.

Then on top of it, they give the guy a department funeral. It's a slap in the face to every guy that died on the street of Los Angeles doing his job and being an honest cop. Kevin Gaines didn't die being a policeman. He died being an asshole. And he had absolutely no right to have a policeman's funeral. . . .

Perez's Allegations

What is the feeling among the CRASH officers when word gets out that Ray Perez is in there singing and talking about police corruption in the unit and promising that it goes way beyond him and his partner?

Well, I think at first when you first hear that Ray Perez is going to make a deal and is going to implicate officers, I know my first reaction was, "So? It's not going to be me. He must be going to go talk about Mack and whatever is going on there." I wasn't worried about anything.

Then you know the story starts changing, where he's implicating CRASH officers in all these misdeeds; that the whole department is screwed up; that CRASH officers do all this evil stuff; that we made him evil; that he was a good little kid. So he sells his song and dance. . . . He's caught with his whole body in the cookie jar. But he's doing what any crook does. He's making a deal to save himself. . . .

As these events were unfolding and Ovando's getting out of jail and you're reading and hearing about this, is your personal response of one of, "Gee, that's surprising," or, "I kind of figured," or. . . ?

. . . When you heard about Ovando, it was like, "Man, I'm glad I wasn't working, that I wasn't there." Because whatever Ray did, anybody that was there is going to get looked at and talked to. If they ask me, I wasn't there. And then it just kept mushrooming. Then it was just a matter of time of, "How long before I'm dragged into this pile of nonsense with him?"

When did it begin to dawn on you that you might be?

Actually, I never had a clue. I was a detective at the time. I was on the sergeant's list when Perez's allegations started happening. I don't remember the exact count, but a group of officers were assigned home right around the time he starts making his allegations. That was in September 1998.

What do you mean "assigned home?"

They were relieved of duty. Their badges and guns were taken, and they were assigned home because of the seriousness of the allegations that Perez was making. . . . Meanwhile, the Ray Perez story continues to unfold. I'm coming up on making sergeant. . . .I get promoted. I get transferred to Pacific Division. . . .

My wife was pregnant at the time. . . . The next morning, the phone rang and it was the captain from Pacific. I got on the phone and within a minute of talking to him, I could tell something was the matter. . . . He tells me he has to relieve me of duty. I'm like, "For what?" I'm assuming it has something to do with my performance as a sergeant. And he goes, "I really don't know. It just pertains to the Rampart investigation." . . .

He says, "I need you to come to Pacific, bring your badge, your gun, your I.D. card." And I said, "Sir, I can't come to Pacific. I'm going to the delivery room with my wife. As soon as I have the baby, I'll call you." He was like, "No, we have to do this." And I said, "Well, come to the hospital," never believing in a million years that they would come to the delivery room while my kid was being born. And lo and behold, he waiting for me at the hospital. He took my badge, my I.D. card, and my gun from me in the delivery room when my son was being born. . . .

When and how did you begin to hear what it was exactly that Ray Perez was alleging about you?

Well, when I was assigned home, I was given a letter. It just said that you're the subject of a serious allegation of misconduct and possible criminal activity. And due to the serious nature of these allegations, until it's investigated, you'll be assigned home with pay. . . .

I didn't do anything I was worried about. I didn't know what they were investigating, and they didn't tell me. The captain that relieved me didn't know. So what's this about? Don't know. I got my phone call, and I got my orders. OK. There's lots of rumors going around, and different stories. But mostly it was the press.

What kind of rumors? What kind of stories?

That Perez was making all kinds of crazy allegations. He was implicating everybody that had worked CRASH. He was saying that we shot people, beat people, planted evidence. . . . And one morning I got a phone call that said, "Hey, you and Harper's name are on the front page of the paper on the Daily News. I read the article, and it was about [Allen Lobos,] that we had planted a gun on [Allen Lobos] and done all this stuff.

I was like, this has got to be somebody other than the guy I'm thinking of. . . . That was a good arrest. From there, I started reading in the paper, there was lots of leaks in the L.A. Times and the Daily News about what the investigation was doing, what they were focusing on.

And still, when you would read in the paper that this is what Perez alleged about you, it was like, "Well, so what? They'll investigate it, and they'll find out it's not true." The next thing, I get a call from my attorney at six o'clock in the morning, saying, "You're about to be arrested." . . .

You're beginning to hear these allegations about things that you say you had no fear of being found guilty of, because you didn't do them. So what's your emotional response? Are you angry? Is it one of outrage? Is it one of bemusement?

At this time, it's one of frustration. But it's also one of a little bit of understanding. The department is stuck with the problem of Perez of making these allegations, and they're pretty serious, so they're going to have to investigate it.

But why would Ray Perez implicate you? You must have been asking yourself that. How did you explain that to yourself?

I didn't. I had no answer. My wife would ask me, "Why you?" And I'd say, "Why everybody? He's implicating everybody." I was at the end of the list compared to guys that had been off months before me. I asked my lawyer a hundred times, "Why me? What does all this mean?" "Don't know. We'll have to wait and see."

What I did expect was a fair shake from the police department. I expected a fair and decent investigation.

Did you get that?

No. It was a railroad job right from the beginning. As time has progressed and we went through the trial, evidence that was exculpatory was withheld from us, statements that were not made available to us--a lot of stuff that really surprised me.

But why would the L.A.P.D. be interested in railroading an officer that has been awarded the Medal of Valor?

Don't know. There's lots of different stories floating around. There's different stories in the newspaper.

What do you think, Sergeant?

I think that they bought Ray Perez's story, hook, line, and sinker, and they overreacted to it. They immediately assigned cops at home. They formed a task force. We've got this terrible stuff happening. And Ray Perez is a very convincing, manipulative person. He was controlling the show. It was Ray Perez. It was the Ray Perez show. These people were just led down the path by Ray Perez. They believe what Ray Perez has said. So they're out to right this wrong and get these evil policemen, and you're finding incompetent investigations. You're finding, at best, questionable tactics by some of the investigators.

This is what they're using to support their contention that we committed these acts. I know that I didn't commit any acts that I'm accused of. I know several of the other officers that are accused that I would bet my life on are not dirty, corrupt policemen. It's what we did every day when we went to work. We put our lives in each other's hands. And the things that Perez alleges just could never have went on the way he describes, not in the Los Angeles Police Department. . . .

When you look back at this and you hear that Rampart CRASH in particular was the focus of the worst police corruption in this city's, if not this country's, history, what was it about? And what do you make of that?

I think that there's been a terrible tragedy. I think that Ray Perez, who was a despicable person, had to save his own skin. For whatever other personal motivation, he has taken apart the Los Angeles Police Department, and has ruined the reputation of countless men and women. The powers that be, both from the DA's office and the police department, have jumped right onboard with Ray Perez in doing that. The Rampart corruption scandal is the result of shoddy investigation, political craziness, and grandstanding by certain leaders that are involved and making demands. . . .

If someone were objectively interested in getting a sense of what kind of fellow you are and what kind of police officer you have been, you would see, of course, your record. You'd see the Medal of Valor. You would hear all that and, of course, the most recent accounts. Was there ever anything in your prior record as a police officer that would be problematic to you?

When I was a policeman in Norwalk, I had been accused by a female of sexual assault, and I had been arrested and went to trial. I was found not guilty. And when I applied to the Los Angeles Police Department, that was investigated about a hundred times over before I was accepted. And that's about it.

You were acquitted?

Yes, I was. That's a pretty significant event, but that's the only thing, the only black mark that I have in my past.

Was that why you left Norwalk?

No. No, I went back to work in Norwalk and worked for over a year after that.

And anything like that before this Perez incident in L.A.P.D.?

No. . . .

Would Ray Perez have had any reason to have had a beef with you?

I was in CRASH for one period. Then I got promoted out and I left, and then I came back to CRASH as a P-3, which is two stripes on your sleeve, kind of like a corporal. In CRASH, that entails being a squad leader--helping with the gang assignments and assisting the supervisors. Ray was working Narcotics, and had wanted to come back to CRASH. My input had been that he doesn't come back to CRASH, and I know that that became known to Ray. I thought that Ray needed to go back to patrol, kind of like Ray forgot where he came from. He thought he was better than everybody else. "Look at me, I can go wherever I want." That's not a good attitude to have. Maybe that should have been some warning, but hindsight is always easy. I don't know.

Ray Perez, on the surface, was one person, and underneath was another person. Who we saw every day at work is not the person that he was. He dishonored a badge, and he dishonored a department. I just think that he's trying to make up for his misdeeds by saying that everybody else made him the bad person that he is. That's not true. To this day, any officers I worked with in CRASH, I would risk my life for--with the exception of Ray Perez.


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