Perez's shocking allegations about police misconduct in the Rampart CRASH unit
are at the heart of the L.A.P.D. scandal. He claimed the unit was rampant with
drug dealing rogue cops who were shaking down gang members and framing innocent
people. How truthful are his charges? The views of L.A.P.D. Chief Bernard
Parks, Former L.A.P.D. Chief Daryl Gates, Judge Larry Fidler,former L.A.
District Attorney Gil Garcetti, and Detective Mike Hohan.
Chief Bernard Parks
Chief of L.A.P.D.
What's important is that when we evaluate what Perez told us early on in
his interviews he was very graphic and worldly--that everyone that worked
within certain units all did something. But as we continued to interview him,
he began to narrow that down on his own. He became very specific as to what he
knew officers had done, what he speculated they had done, and when those were
in the loop or out of the loop.
As he continued to talk, you'll see that he's far more concise and the numbers
of people begin to be smaller, and smaller, as opposed to the worldwide view
that he took early on about every CRASH officer does this, or everyone that
works in special units does these kinds of activities. He became more specific
as, I think, he realized the importance of being accurate, and giving good
information had a real impact on his future. He began to get very concise as to
what he saw, what he thought he saw. He would very clearly go through and say,
"I didn't see this, but I heard this." He was very clear.
Then when we went out early in 1999, or I guess early 2000, and begin to find
some of these people who had been arrested. And without telling them what Perez
said, they reported back to us how the circumstances occurred, and it matched
what he told us. It was pretty clear that, on most of those 1999 false arrests,
he was being very accurate, at least at how he had participated in illegal
Fmr. Chief Daryl Gates
Chief of L.A.P.D., 1978-1992
When you look at the pictures of Rafael Perez, our bank robber, and others like
that, and for anyone to tell me that Rafael Perez was not involved and did not
know about that bank robbery, is nonsense. If anyone can tell me that he didn't
know what was going on in connection with the rappers is nonsense. And no one
ever talks about it. Nobody even asks him the questions. Or if they do ask him
the questions, he takes the Fifth, he won't answer those. All he's talking
about is other cops. And he's an inveterate liar.
Two things are happening with Rafael Perez. One, he wants a better deal, and
two, he doesn't want to look like the bad guy, so he makes other police
officers look like bad guys, because he doesn't want to look like a bad guy.
It's his own self-esteem. "It's not just me, it's those other guys, too. I
wasn't the only one, those other guys did it too." So he puts a finger on a
whole bunch of people, and right from the very beginning, I would have had a
hard time believing anything that guy said. I know Internal Affairs has done a
lot of investigating, but who are you investigating, gang members? Are you
going to listen to what they have to say, too?
These are smart guys. A lot of them are in prison, or have been in prison. All
you do is ask the right questions, and you're going to get the right answers. I
would have a hard time, and I've had a hard time right from the very beginning
with this thing, and believing Rafael Perez....
You've got a real criminal, Rafael Perez, accusing a lot of police officers of
things, where they're saying, "I didn't do that. I didn't do that." That's not
the way I operate. That's not the way I was taught. That's not the way I do my
police work. This guy is a liar.
Judge Larry Fidler
Former supervising judge of LA Superior Court
He is a very persuasive witness. I'm not saying he's truthful. I'm saying he's
a very persuasive witness. And when this story first broke, in talking to other
judges, those that knew Perez and had seen him testify--he was fairly well
known because he did a lot of cases and testified in a lot of cases. Everyone
agrees that he was a very smooth, very persuasive witness.... If he just came
in and testified and you didn't know anything bad about him, I don't think he'd
have much difficulty persuading you that he was telling you the truth.
And in an awful lot of the cases, it really was his word.
Well, basically what most of the writs turn out to be is that Perez alleges
misconduct on his behalf and sometimes other police officers. The corroboration
is, for the most part, the defendant and/or his or her co-defendants saying,
"That's right, we didn't do it. We're absolutely innocent, and we pled because
we were facing a lot of years," or whatever, assuming that it was a plea, as
most of the cases were. That's what you have. The corroboration is the
defendant saying, "Yes, he says he's lying, and we agree that he is lying. He's
telling the truth when he says that he was not telling the truth."
Why do you think, Your Honor, that more police officers didn't come
Well, you have to ask either there's no facts there--is Perez lying? I don't
know. Those are matters that need to be resolved. There are lots of reasons why
perhaps it didn't happen. But basically, Perez's credibility is now turning out
to be a very large question. I'm not saying he's credible, I'm not saying he's
not credible. But there have been allegations. It has been public knowledge for
some time now that he has allegedly made comments while in prison, post-making
his statements, that he can take care of any police officer he wants to if he
doesn't like them. The credibility of those statements has not yet been tested,
but those are out there. . . .
Former President of the LA Police Commission
When you hear those stories that Ray Perez starts to tell, what do you hear?
What's your response?
Well, I have a certain cynicism of somebody who has been in the criminal
justice system for a very long time. My first thought as I heard them, and
read some of them in the newspapers and other places, is that I didn't believe
all of it. I thought some of it was true, but not all of it. I thought some
people were trying to get a deal. There was embellishment going on. I think
that there is some truth to what he says, but certainly I don't think every
individual incident that he talks about is probably supported by other facts.
But it certainly was a situation where you said, "There is a problem here. If
there is not a department that is out of control, which there didn't appear to
be, there are certainly individual parts of it that needed more control, and
had problems, major problems." And I think that's what we found.
Former District Attorney for Los Angeles County
Is Rafael Perez a believable fellow?
That's the question that I asked [the investigators]. "How can we believe him?
He's lied to everyone, for God's sake. You want me to believe now what he's
saying?" And you know what? They said, "Yes. He's incredible, Gil. This guy is
really persuasive. He's telling the truth. We're convinced of this. So we'll go
out and find out some corroboration of it then." And they were able to come
back with a little corroboration.
But in the meantime, I was asking my staff. This guy has testified. Do you mean
to tell me there is not one judge, not one prosecutor, who has said, "Hey, this
guy is a liar?" So we started looking and talking. I personally talked to a
couple of our prosecutors who had him as witnesses, to tell me about him. One
man, a senior prosecutor in our office, said he was the best witness I ever
had. Number one, he read the reports before he testified, and that's a big plus
Two, he wasn't someone who came across as biased or prejudiced towards us. He
was always friendly to everyone. He came across as relaxed. He was an awesome
witness.... At the time Perez appeared for his sentencing, when he gave his
statement, I was not in the courtroom. But several people told me that you can
see why people would believe this guy. He is tremendous in terms of just
Now, let's look at this from a slightly different angle. Step back. We have
these incidents. We have a shooting, a weird shooting, involving a cop. We have
Death Row Records, Biggie Smalls, and maybe cops involved around the
peripheries of that. A bank robbery, Rafael Perez stealing coke, putting coke
out on the street. Big deal. You guys go after him. You nail him to the wall.
You get him to confess, to plead, and flip him. He is now going to tell you a
lot of things.
Does he tell you about David Mack?
Did he tell you anything about Biggie Smalls' murder or any of that
Does he tell you anything at all about any of the other fellows that might
be involved in the bank robberies or any of that?
He stays away from that?
He stays away from it. By other people's accounts--not mine, because I've never
met the man--he seems to have a very strong relationship towards Mr. Mack. I
don't know if that's fear, or an affection.
So it must occur to you that he knows something.
I'm absolutely convinced he knows something. He has never told us.... He was
trying to cut himself a deal. He told us things that we never expected to
hear--never. Still, as I sit here a few years later, I'm still stunned by what
took place and what he told us. But he didn't tell us the big things that we
really wanted to hear.
There is a suspicion that, in the same way that Perez claims that he and his
fellows put cases on these gang members, that what Ray Perez is really doing is
putting these cases on the cops.
That's why we had to have corroboration. You cannot prosecute one of these
cases on the basis of Officer Perez saying, "You did it. Pete is the bad guy."
Pete might be the bad guy, but unless you show me as a prosecutor something
that corroborates this liar, the thief, the perjurer Officer Perez, then I'm
not going to prosecute it....
Detective Mike Hohan
L.A.P.D. Detective, principal investigator on the Rampart Corruption Task
What did he say about how widespread this putting cases on people was within
He said it went throughout the city; that based on his comments, I believe it
was something like 95 percent of all the specialized CRASH units or specialized
units in the city did this type of activity.
Has that borne out, by the way?
What has borne out?
What has borne out is that there are a number of irregularities in cases that
developed out of Rampart CRASH. Some of them may rise to the level of criminal
conduct. Others arise to the level of administrative misconduct. And others
appear to be completely correct.
Is it 20 percent, 30 percent, 60 percent?
I couldn't say precisely. What I can say is that we reviewed approximately 2500
arrest reports. And I believe that, out of those, we found approximately 100
that were questionable....
I never quite got what he meant by being "in the loop." He begins to
describe to you all, "Well, there were some cops who were actually out there
involved, and then there were others who were in the loop." What does he mean
. . . You might say it's the classic tale of corruption, in the sense that an
officer that was in the loop was somebody that knew about the activity that was
going on, had participated in some level of the activity, and, because of that,
they had him. They had something on him, so the officer couldn't tell anybody
about what happened. So you had this. And within this group of people in the
loop, you had some people that were proactive. They went out and they did these
things. And you had other people that acquiesced. They knew what happened, but
because they were either there or witnessed it, they couldn't do anything about
How wide was this loop as Perez described it?
When he described it, he named quite a few CRASH officers and former CRASH
officers that he alleged were in the loop.
And what did you find?
We found that officers were involved in misconduct, but again, not to the level
I think that Rafael Perez has indicated.
What is "take it to the box?"
"Take it to the box" refers to the witness stand [the box]. And Ray Perez
explained to us in the interviews we did with him was it meant that, when an
officer was charged with misconduct or criminal activity or whatever, he would
go into court, commit perjury, and lie for that officer. If there was an
administrative hearing, which we call a Board of Rights, you would go into
that, lie under oath for the officer, and perjure yourself.
What did you find about that?
We really didn't find that that had happened very often....
I believe Perez's veracity is the same as any other informant's. You have to
look at him like that. A portion of it's going to be the truth, a portion of it
is just going to be faulty memory. He's going to make mistakes, just because of
the lapse of time and the sheer volume of cases he's looking at. He may hold
back some information for a rainy day. And there may be something that, for
personal reasons, he's not going to be completely truthful.
[Do you think that] Rafael Perez knows something about the Mack bank robbery
that he's not telling you?
I believe he does, yes.
It might that be one of the things he's saving for a rainy day?
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