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INTERVIEWS
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detective russell poole

As an L.A.P.D. Robbery/Homicide detective, Poole was a lead investigator in the Lyga-Gaines shooting and assisted in the Biggie Smalls murder case. He was later assigned to the Rampart Investigative Task Force. In 1999, Poole left the L.A.P.D. after 18 years on the force and has since filed a lawsuit against the department alleging that Chief Parks, and others, conspired to prevent a thorough investigation of corruption within the department. FRONTLINE interviewed Poole on February 6, 2001.
The Lyga-Gaines Highway Shooting

. . . Kevin Gaines drove up next to Detective Frank Lyga, and engaged him into some kind of a verbal altercation. Basically, Lyga didn't know what to make of it. He thought the guy was crazy. The guy was swearing at him, threatened to cap some rounds at him, to shoot him. Basically, Frank had used a ruse to get him to pull over in front of him, because Gaines had challenged him to a fight. Lyga agreed that they would pull over up ahead to the curb to have it out. So Gaines basically drove in front of him, parked at the curb. Lyga had no intentions of stopping and engaging in some kind of altercation with this individual. So Lyga continued on in traffic and noticed that Gaines had got stuck in traffic. That was the plan. Meanwhile, Lyga got on his radio and asked for his fellow detectives to return to the location where they were. . . . Some of the detectives were having a hard time hearing what Frank was trying to say over the radio. There was a lot of static. But there were a few that understood him, and many of them made U-turns and headed back to the approximate location where Frank was.

Meanwhile, Gaines is shagging him down through traffic.

Correct. . . . Frank's on the radio again, saying, "Hey, get here, hurry up, this guy's coming up on me. I think he's got a gun, I think he's going to shoot me." Sure enough, Gaines caught up to him and pointed a gun at him. Frank already had his gun out, ready to go, just in case he did have a gun. Lyga fired two rounds in the direction of Gaines.

Gaines took off, made a U-turn, and wound up in the parking lot of the gas station, and collided slightly into the side of the AM/PM market. So he'd been shot. Frank followed in behind him and had his gun drawn. There happened to be two CHP officers at the rear of the AM/PM market on a coffee break. . . . They assisted him in trying to apprehend the suspect in the car. When they made their approach, it was obvious that Gaines was unconscious. When they opened the door, Gaines's pistol was laying on the floorboard near the door. The ambulance was called and he was rushed to the hospital and was pronounced dead.

So when did people find out that he was a police officer?

It wasn't until a detective went to the hospital, looked in his wallet, and saw his police identification. He then radioed to the crime scene, and notified the supervisor there that the person who had been shot was an off-duty police officer. . . .

What are you thinking at that moment?

At that time, it appeared that there was some kind of a verbal altercation between two cops who just happened to meet up; then it resulted into a shooting. . . . Until we actually talk to Lyga ourselves, we really didn't know the details of everything. But while we're at the scene, we received a clue that Gaines had a girlfriend. Gaines was married and separated from his wife. However, he had a girlfriend that lived in Hollywood Hills. We then received the address to that woman, and conducted a follow-up to that address. When we got there, it was an expensive home--I guess you could call it a mansion. It turned out that his girlfriend was Sharitha Knight, who was the estranged wife of Marion "Suge" Knight.

Did you know who Suge Knight was?

Yes. Suge Knight was the owner of Death Row Records. He's a CEO of these rap groups. That's when I felt that we had something that is different from your ordinary investigation. . . .

And you believe this is a righteous shooting, almost from the beginning?

Oh, yes. Yes. There's no evidence that suggests that Lyga knew who Gaines was. As a matter of fact, I recovered a security videotape a day or two later from the AM/PM market that substantiated what Lyga had said. It was clear that Gaines was in pursuit of him. The videotape showed that. They put a microscope under Lyga, and he had to go through three separate hearings. There was no evidence whatsoever that there was any foul play involved in this. It was just a matter of a guy pointing a gun at him, and, before the guy fired, he fired first and killed him.

But much is made out of the fact that Kevin Gaines is black and Frank Lyga is white.

In the days following the shooting, there was a lot of tension within the police department between some of the African-American officers and white officers. It was told to us that there were several debates going on how the shooting went down. Not a lot of people really knew what the facts were, but a lot of rumors were spreading that it was a racial incident, which was far from the truth. [It] had nothing to do with race or anything like that.

How do you know?

Just based on the evidence that was there at the scene. If Gaines was white and he was pointing a gun at Lyga, Lyga would have done the same thing.

So why, when a black officer is shot by a white officer in a road rage incident, does it turn into that? What are the other circumstances? What's going on in Los Angeles? What's been happening that allows that to be front and center?

These guys got off on power--the power of the badge, the power of the gun, the power over doing anything they wanted to do.  That meant stealing money, stealing dope, trafficking the dope for profit.. . . That's a tough question. It's a hard question. We just went through the Rodney King beating, the riots, the OJ Simpson case. Then all of a sudden, we had this incident. People were just putting fuel in the fire, so to speak, trying to create some news. It's actually a tragedy. Frank Lyga, I believe, was the victim in this whole thing. The rumors that he was a racist, the rumors that it was a racially motivated shooting, were totally false. When you checked into Gaines's background, you could put a puzzle together. We were able to determine why he was doing what he was doing. . . .

Almost a year prior to this incident, Gaines had phoned in a phony emergency call at Sharitha Knight's mansion.... The evidence suggests that he did that to engage L.A.P.D. in a confrontation, basically wanted to secure a pension or whatever by filing a lawsuit. . . .

So he was not necessarily a good guy.

No. As a matter of fact, after the shooting, there were four or five other witnesses that had called L.A.P.D. to report that this same Officer Gaines had either badged or brandished his gun in similar road rage-type incidents. That remains a mystery, because not all those incidents were investigated fully. Basically, getting back to the 911 thing, had L.A.P.D. did what they were supposed to do investigate Gaines a year prior on that incident, perhaps this incident would have never happened. OK? It appears that he received preferential treatment in the situation. They didn't aggressively look into Gaines's past for background. When you find out that he was associated with Death Row Records, the department failed to look at those red flags. Or when they saw the red flags, they failed to aggressively investigate the background of Gaines.

Why?

You're going to have to ask Chief Parks about that. Chief Parks was intimately involved in this particular case. I was put in charge of the criminal investigation, of the act of Gaines pointing a gun at Detective Lyga. I was told just to stick to that, and not look any further into Gaines's background; Internal Affairs would do that. So all the clues that came in on Gaines were then transferred over to Internal Affairs. Chief Parks was in charge of Internal Affairs at the time.

Do you have a doubt that Internal Affairs investigated that?

They did not investigate Gaines thoroughly. They did not, at all.

How do you know?

Because I have the Internal Affairs report. I personally requested that a search warrant be done, not only on his residence, but also on his financial background, to find out more about his character. Because during the course of our investigation, we had narco-sniffing dogs come in and sniff the rear cargo area of Sharitha's truck that he was driving. The dog detected remnants of narcotics in the rear cargo of that area. Having experience and knowledge of Death Row Blood gang members being involved in the drug trade, it warranted further investigation. Not only that, Gaines had ten credit cards in his wallet-- which was unusual to me--with maximum balances.

You think Gaines was a bad guy? A gangster cop?

Oh, yes. He crossed the line. He tarnished the badge. . . . Along with the ten credit cards that were found in Gaines's wallet was a receipt. He had spent almost $1,000 at a place called Monty's Steakhouse. Monty's Steakhouse was a Death Row hangout. Monty's Steakhouse has connections with a New York mob family. So with all these things: the narcotics detected in the rear cargo area; his ten credit cards; him going to Monty's Steakhouse, which was a Death Row hangout; his association with Sharitha Knight, Death Row Records; his being a police officer; this information should have been looked into. . . .

I believe that, had we been able to investigate Gaines further, we would have found out probably about Mack, and found out probably about Perez sooner than we did. So we'll never know, because it was not done when it should have been done. . . .

The Murder of Biggie Smalls

We were not the original detectives that handled the Biggie Smalls killing. . . . Wilshire Division ended up investigating the case for the first month. During the course of that first month, we received a phone call from Wilshire detectives, stating that there was a possibility that Gaines may have been involved in the Biggie Smalls killing. That was the first clue that came in.

Who is Biggie Smalls?

Biggie Smalls was Christopher Wallace. He's an East Coast rapper. He worked for Bad Boy Entertainment, which is owned by Sean "Puffy" Combs. There seemed to be a rivalry between Death Row Records and Bad Boy Entertainment.

What happened to him?

There was a Soul Train awards the day before. The day after was what they called an afterparty, a Vibe party at the Petersen Museum in Wilshire, on Wilshire Boulevard. Biggie and his entourage attended the afterparty. The Petersen Museum became overcrowded, and the fire department closed the party down, so everybody was leaving the party all at once. Biggie and Sean "Puffy" Combs and his entourage had left in three separate cars. They caravaned out of the parking structure of the Petersen Museum and came onto the street.

And as they approached the intersection, Puffy Combs was in he first car. He hit a yellow light, so he was already in the middle of the intersection. He went on through. Biggie's car stopped at the red light. Then the security car behind him was stopped behind them. They were in the number one lane, I believe, and there was another lane, a curb lane. A dark SS Chevy Impala drove by and fired shots into the passenger side of Biggie's vehicle. He was subsequently taken to Cedars Sinai Hospital, and was pronounced dead there at the hospital.

So it was an execution.

Yes, it was well planned.

And there's been obviously talk that this is revenge for Tupac Shakur's assassination in Las Vegas. Is that the way you heard the story?

I've been out of the loop on the investigation for a while. I don't know what they've come up with since then, but it was obvious that that's probably what the motive was, that it was retaliation for the Tupac Shakur killing.

Death Row Records and Off-Duty Cops

At the time [of the Gaines shooting], did you find it odd that a police officer was keeping company with the estranged wife of the CEO of Death Row Records?

I don't know if I was surprised at it, but a lot of things were going through my mind, wondering how long had Gaines been associating with this group. Sharitha was a producer of a Death Row company. To me, Death Row was an organized crime group. Not only were they involved in the music business, they were involved in the drug trade also. It was common knowledge that Suge Knight hired Blood gang members for security purposes. Also, I've heard rumors over the years that off-duty police officers were hired by Suge Knight to work security, and they were paid well. . . .

Some of the people who work for him are cops.

That's what it was. The information I received from employees of Wrightway Security [at] Death Row Records was that Suge Knight had given a man by the name of Reggie Wright, Jr. some money to start up a security business. Reggie Wright, Jr. was a former Compton police officer. His dad was still on the force, Reggie Wright, Sr., who was in charge of the gang detail at the time. Reggie Wright, Jr.'s orders by Suge Knight were to hire as many off-duty cops as possible. Subsequently, dozens of police officers were hired on. . . .

Officer David Mack Robs Bank

How do you first hear about David Anthony Mack?

I first hear about Mack when I was on vacation in December 1997, when a news report came out that David Mack, an L.A.P.D. officer, had been arrested for a bank robbery, and $722,000 was taken. That's when I first heard about David Mack. I first heard about Rafael Perez about the same time.

. . . So what happens when you hear about an L.A.P.D. officer robbed a bank? How does a cop react to that?

It doesn't surprise me that every now then you're going to have a bad apple. However as you look further deeper into Mack's history, you find out that he had a connection to Death Row Records also. So with the information I have about Gaines, and the information I have about Mack, and there's information about another police officer that was working for Death Row. His name was [Richard McCauley]. He was a sergeant at the time. It was discovered that he was a security guard for Wrightway Security and worked for Death Row.

So you've got Gaines. . . . You've got Mack. How do you find out about Mack and Death Row Records?

During the course of interviews conducted by the FBI Bank Robbery Division, it was determined that Mack was associated with Blood gang members with some possible ties to Death Row Records. But at that time, there really wasn't a whole lot of evidence--that would come later. After learning about the bank robbery, we learned who some of Mack's partners were. One of his partners was Rafael Perez. Mack and him had been involved in an officer-involved shooting in which a narcotics dealer was shot and killed. . . .

Connecting the Dots

. . . At what point do you start to say to yourself, "Wait a minute, I've got a 'where there's smoke, there's fire' thing here?"

In the summer of 1997--a few months after the Biggie killing--a jailhouse informant was interviewed by two of our detectives. This informant told them that it was a contract hit, that the contract killer in this case first name was Amir. Basically, that was it, pretty much. Of course, there are millions of Amirs in the world, so where do you go? So that clue was kind of stale, until we find out that David Mack has been arrested. The first person to visit David Mack in custody was a man by the name of Amir Muhammad, a.k.a. Harry Billups. . . .

So that's one piece of info. There's a guy named Amir. You've heard about this guy who says that there was a contract hit on Biggie from a guy named Amir, and now he's talking to Mack. That's your connection for Mack and Death Row Records?

Mack admitted during his interviews that he associated with the Blood gang, grew up in Compton. You start making your connections. Suge Knight grew up in Compton. David Mack grew up in Compton. They're both Bloods.

Were there any Gaines-Mack connections?

Through interviews of former police officers that worked in the Death Row organization, Mack and Gaines were identified as confidants of Suge Knight. They were present during private Death Row parties. That's where, for the first time, we were able to really make the connection between those two.

So now you've got to be starting to say to yourself, "Maybe I've got a little bit of a gangster thing going here. Do I have a little bit of a cop gang going, or do I just have a couple of bad apples?"

Right now, you just have a couple of bad apples. However, I think it was important for the police department to find out whether this is real widespread. . . . The first priority on the police department at this particular time would be to thoroughly investigate gangs, and investigate Mack at the time. It was not done. And, like I say, had it been done, if we just did our basic Detective 101 work and looked into the backgrounds of those two individuals, who knows what we could have uncovered? . . .

Tell me about Mack's Impala's involvement. Do you know that it was his Impala that was used in the Biggie Smalls shooting?

We may never know, because when investigators did a search warrant on David Mack's house concerning the bank robbery, they had no idea about our evidence with the Biggie Smalls case. However, after they conducted that search warrant, I interviewed Detective Tyndall. He gave me facts that he had obtained during his investigation that told me that we needed to do a second search warrant to get into Mack's house to recover possible evidence--which included impounding the black Impala, which was in the garage at the time of the first search warrant.

He had a shrine of Tupac Shakur, posters and memorabilia of Tupac Shakur all through the garage. He also had a cache of ammunition, both foreign and domestic ammunition, that was never recovered by the bank robbery detectives. They felt that it wasn't going to be of any evidentiary value in their case.

And when he told me that, it would have been nice to go into his house and see whether or not he had that rare ammunition that was used in the Biggie Smalls case. But when I suggested to my superiors to do a second search warrant, I was told no. Mack has already gone down for the bank robbery; and we're not going to look into it any further. That's the way it was. It was the same thing with Gaines. They said that Gaines is dead; we're not going to look any further into Gaines.

Rafael Perez and the Missing Cocaine

Some cocaine is stolen out of the locker. That investigation starts to focus on Rafael Perez. When is the first moment, in your mind, when you connect David Mack to Rafael Perez?

I was told right after the bank robbery that Rafael Perez had come in to speak with investigators regarding David Mack. They knew that those two were partners; they were involved in officer-involved shootings together. I was told that Perez wasn't straightforward with the detectives, which kind of heightened my suspicions about him. If Mack was smart, he wasn't going to get a dirtbag off the street to help him do the bank robbery. He was going to pick people he trusted. And Perez admitted during that bank robbery investigation that he would do anything for David Mack, because he felt that David Mack saved his life during the course of that one officer-involved shooting. He basically made it known that he owed David Mack his life, and would do anything for him.

There was no obvious evidence, no evidence at all, to link Perez to Mack and the bank robbery. But this was another one of those suspicious moments, right?

Yes. Not until Internal Affairs starts investigating this missing three kilos of cocaine from Property Division. Then they find out that Perez is the one that actually stole the cocaine. Here you've got David Mack and Perez were partners. David Mack goes down for a major felony-- bank robbery. You've got Rafael Perez going into our own Property Division, ordering up three kilos of cocaine, then finding out later he ordered up some more cocaine, about a kilo of cocaine, and had it delivered to Rampart Station. And that turns up missing.

And the uniqueness behind that was that Frank Lyga had recovered that particular package of cocaine during one of his narco busts. It just so happened that it was taken about a week after Lyga was exonerated fully in the shooting of Kevin Gaines. To me, it was obvious that it was retaliation to make Frank Lyga's life more miserable. And that needed to be looked into further.

So we have Gaines connected to Death Row. We have a lot of police officers working around there through Wrightway Security. We have Mack robbing a bank connected to Death Row. We have Biggie's death in a black Chevy Impala SS. We have Amir visiting Mack. Now we have Rafael Perez . . . So are you and others at the task force beginning to believe that maybe there's some gangster cops?

Actually, we're receiving additional information in regards to Gaines and Mack, from various sources. One was from an African-American L.A.P.D. officer, who sent me what you call a 15-7 form--it's like a memo form. He sent it to me. He gave me some information that he had received regarding Gaines's involvement with Death Row trafficking drugs. Apparently the information was, "Wait until you see Gaines's house and all the expensive things that he has." The information was that they were running interference for the drug trafficking through Death Row, and providing security for them to make sure that the drugs were getting through.

Also, there was additional information from a police officer who had worked undercover inside Death Row. And of course they knew he was a police officer, but there were dozens of police officers within Death Row, so it really didn't heighten their suspicions. However, this detective felt that his cover was going to be blown. As a matter of fact, he felt that his life was in danger. So he got out of his role as an undercover. He was working on an FBI task force, as a matter of fact, trying to get information on Death Row.

It was a fascinating investigation. It was an unusual investigation. I had never investigated other police officers. It appeared there was another scandal in the brewing here. However, Chief Parks was intimately involved in every one of these investigations, and he was calling the shots on them. Each one of these separate incidents were never investigated thoroughly. . . .

Evidence Against Perez

What did you find when you went into Ray Perez's house?

I was placed in charge of identifying recovering and photographing all the evidence. I was kind of surprised to find several items of evidence that were additional red flags to the police department. One of the things that sticks out the most was a box. It was taped up, secured tightly. On the box it said, "Secret Confidential CRASH," and it had a date on it. The box was placed in a basement stairwell when we conducted the search. I then had it photographed, and then opened it up to see what was in there. We found about six or seven replica guns in there and some other paraphernalia, gang paraphernalia stuff, like that.

And so another red flag goes up. Why does [it] say "Secret Confidential." It's all taped up and secured. Why does he have these guns? Of course, in the history of corruption, there are always incidents that involve throwdown guns. You're involved in a shooting, maybe a bad shooting; the person's unarmed; you've got to have access to some guns. . . .

Also at his house, he had three badges. Two of the badges were his badges. He had reported one of his L.A.P.D. badges stolen. It turned up in his own home. He also had several police radios that were taken from other divisions. Why was he in possession of those radios? He had several police scanners. He had several raid jackets that were not his. Each person is allowed to have one raid jacket checked out to them; he had several raid jackets.

He had a stack of what we call field interview cards. He had hundreds, hundreds of field interview cards that were never turned in. Those are like little reports that are to be turned in. . . . All these things building up, they were not looked into.

. . . What does it all mean to you?

To me, [it said that] we had an organized group of officers that were engaged in organized crime. Plain and simple. We had some dope dealers. There was no question that we had dope dealers on the force. To think that Rafael Perez was the only person that was involved in this was ridiculous. Reading the reports, Durden was with him several times. There were several other officers, the same officers involved in the same operations of all these drug busts.

People need to know that these guys testified every day at being these experts at drug dealing, with observations of drug dealing. It's just not believable to think that there weren't more officers involved in selling drugs, shaking gangbangers down for drug money and drugs, and making a profit on the side. The supervision was out to lunch.

Chief Parks' Reaction

[What happened when you tried] to tell Chief Parks about some of these things?

This was unusual. I was given a case. It was called the Hewitt investigation. [CRASH Officer Brian Hewitt was accused of beating unarmed gang member Ismael Jiminez when he was brought in to Rampart Station for questioning]. Here again, the incident occurred about five or six months prior to the case getting to me, to the task force. . . . I looked over all the evidence and determined that a crime had been committed. What's unusual is that a lot of the Detective 101 stuff hadn't been done for five months. It had been ignored. I found that to be unusual.

Internal Affairs had had the case. And so as time goes on, you lose a lot of potential evidence. Why didn't they do some of the usual follow-up investigations that are required in something as serious as this Hewitt investigation? When I looked into the background of Hewitt, I found out that he had been involved in several similar incidents in his career, dating back to 1995 at Rampart Division. Many of those investigations were covered up. They were not investigated to the fullest. Virtually [all] the officers that were involved in some of these beatings and false imprisonment, they never got any punishment.

That would have been under Chief Parks when he was running IA?

That's absolutely correct. To me, being a homicide detective for the last 13 years of my career, it was an investigator's insult to let all these red flags go by without further investigation. I told the chief that I wanted to investigate all these other incidents further, to show that this one Hewitt investigation was not a fluke, that he didn't have just one bad day--that he had a pattern in practice of assaulting handcuffed prisoners.

And that Rafael Perez did not one time steal some dope, and that he needed help doing all these kinds of things?

Right. It was obvious a lot of these officers were framing people, framing gangbangers. I worked gangs before. You can do an investigation professionally. It falls into your lap all the time. You can do it the right way. There is no reason to falsify anything.

Why were they doing that?

It was the easy way out. You've got to remember, they were doing it for profit. And it was an ego thing with a lot of these guys. It's still unknown. I mean, they still haven't really examined the whole thing.

Are you saying that Ray Perez, busy being a drug dealer, was kind of a lazy cop? . . . [He] wanted to be known as the intimidator in the neighborhood, and just didn't want to do regular old-fashioned police work?

These guys, I'm telling you, they got off on power--the power of the badge, the power of the gun, the power over doing anything they wanted to do. That meant stealing money, stealing dope, trafficking the dope for profit.

When you say "these guys," who do you mean?

Who knows how many are involved? It was never looked into. The chief wanted this whole investigation done by the end of 1998. It was impossible to do, if you were going to do a thorough job, to really come to some answers on why all this stuff was happening. That included David Mack's involvement in Biggie Smalls' case. That involved gangs. So what if he was dead? We needed to find out this information. How widespread was this organized criminal activity? How widespread was it?

So is there a moment where you say to the chief of police of L.A.P.D., "We've got to go do this?"

We had conducted the investigation for a couple of months. Then the chief, out of the blue, orders a meeting in his office, which was quite unusual. He never has done that, really. He wanted to be briefed on the Hewitt investigation. So we were asked to prepare a timeline on the events leading up through the Hewitt investigation. My original timeline included all the evidence involving gangs, all the things that involved that case, all the evidence included in the Biggie Smalls case involving Mack, all the evidence--some of the evidence involving Perez and many of the different issues with Hewitt.

And then when I turned it in, they redlined about three pages--took out all of the gang stuff, all the Mack stuff. In my opinion, I felt that maybe, at the time, the chief didn't really know all the facts in this. . . .

I briefed the chief on the Hewitt investigation. During the course of that meeting, I was describing other cases that had occurred in the past. . . . I didn't bring up Biggie Smalls. But [Detective] Brian Tyndall brought it up. Brian Tyndall told the chief that Russ believes that David Mack was involved in the conspiracy to kill Biggie Smalls. The chief didn't have a comment about that. . . .

I was describing all the different incidents that involved Hewitt and Perez, and some of these same officers involved in several other incidents that occurred, where serious injuries had occurred on some people. I requested to investigate it further, and he told me, "No, I want you to concentrate on just this one case, the Jimenez beating, don't do anything further." I said, "Chief, it's more than just this one case. It has to do with these officers over at Rampart. You've got a group of vigilante cops over there at Rampart Division."

And everybody went silent. The chief kind of looked over at Lieutenant Hernandez, then they changed the subject. They changed the subject. If I recall correctly, it was, "Oh, I think we need to do an audit on some of these police officers like Hewitt and Perez. Seems that some of these officers came on at the same time. We need to find out if we've got a series of problem officers in this span of a year or so at the time these guys came on the police force." And then they adjourned the meeting, said, "Thank you very much, very good presentation." Nothing else was said. . . .

I did my best to uncover as much as possible. We needed more time to investigate this whole matter. There was much more to it. But the chief said, "No, I want a report in two weeks." I wasn't able to do a thorough investigation on the matter. That included the Jimenez beating, because there were several things that needed to be investigated further. . . .

And so what I did is that I did what the chief said: I prepared a report. I turned in that 40-page report, the report was suppressed. It was not turned in.

Who didn't turn it in?

I turned it in to Lieutenant Hernandez. Lieutenant Hernandez said we couldn't turn this in.

Because?

He said basically, "The chief doesn't want this in." The chief was calling the shots on it, which was very unusual. But you've got to know something. I'm the lead investigator in a case. I'm the one that's going to be testifying in a court of law. I told Lieutenant Hernandez if there's something inaccurate in my report, let's change it. He really didn't give me a good explanation why he didn't want to turn this report in. . . .

Eventually, I gave the district attorney my version of the report and was told that, had we received all the evidence in this report, all the stuff, and all the other complaints against Hewitt involving other incidents, they would have filed charges. But I was prevented from doing that--from doing my job.

So, in essence, it doesn't take a genius to figure out that there was some obstruction of justice. It was just plain and simple. They purged items from the D.A. package I had prepared. It had documents, documents and photographs they had purged from... The D.A. should have had those items in order to have a good picture of what was occurring in this particular case. . . .

So do you think, Detective, that Chief Parks was surprised when Ray Perez offered a plea and when the D.A. took it?

. . . This is the worst decision the chief ever made, the worst decision any police officer could make, by giving Ray Perez a deal before he is convicted. Plain and simple. We had enough information on top of his drug cases, if I was able to investigate further on some of these other beating cases. It was enough to send Rafael Perez 25-to-life. . . .

Would the chief have signed off on that deal?

I think the chief was intimately involved in making the decision to make that deal along with D.A. Rosenthal, who was there. For some reason, they wanted to get rid of it as quickly as possible.

For him to get only five years--he's going to be out in June--is a travesty of justice. So far we've had one court case, and the court case has been thrown out. You tell me how many prosecutions as a result of Ray Perez's confessions resulted--zip. Zip. He's getting out in June. All it has resulted in is civil lawsuits by gang members who are getting rich. The investigation of Ray Perez was prematurely settled. I think that the head people at the D.A.'s office were duped by their own people; they were duped by the L.A.P.D. in charge of this investigation.

[For more on this controversy, read Chief Parks' response to Poole's allegations. Also, this New Times LA article theorizes that Parks sought to contain the Rampart scandal at the expense of getting at the truth].
Based on the information facts that I have gathered during all these investigations, it dates back when Chief Parks was in charge of Internal Affairs. . . . I think, over the years, it just kept snowballing from one event to the next. I think he felt that, if he could contain each investigation individually, that the sloppiness of Internal Affairs would not be uncovered and made public. He tried to contain it. . . .

. . . I knew that the chief and some of the other people involved suppressed evidence, obstructed justice; nothing was being done about it. I complained and nothing was being done about my concerns. It was all swept under the rug. I stayed on for another year, [and then resigned].

. . . I believed in the oath of office. I believed my loyalties are to the people of Los Angeles. If we didn't have the courage enough to bring forth the truth about Rampart and all these other investigations, then we have no business being cops.

How shy of 20 years were you when you walked out?

I was about 16 months, 14 months, shy of 20 years.

You couldn't stick with it?

. . . I thought the best interests of me and my family was to move on. Then, when the Perez thing broke and he was spilling his guts, it turned out if you read his transcripts, that I was right about many of the things that I told the chief in the meeting here, and Perez is talking about it. He confessed to many of these additional cases that we could have investigated ourselves. . . .

But they would say, "Oh, my, Detective, this is not a conspiracy. This is a bunch of little [individual] deals that happened." . . .

No, there was a pattern a problem with these officers. These officers were involved in serious felonies. They had a pattern. We don't even know how long they were involved in this criminal activity. We needed to investigate them thoroughly, and it was not done. We still do not know to this day how many cops were actually involved in Death Row. We still do not know. It was all swept under the rug. . . .


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