The Lyga-Gaines Highway Shooting
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.
. . . 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
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
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
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
. . . 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.
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
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
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
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
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
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,
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
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
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,
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
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
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.
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.
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. . . .