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Perez's Confessions: Audio Excerpts

On trial for the second time for stealing a million dollars of cocaine from the L.A.P.D. property room, L.A. police officer Rafael Perez, the man who triggered the Rampart scandal, reached a plea agreement. Under the agreement, Perez would testify about what he claimed was widespread police misconduct in exchange for a five-year prison term and immunity from prosecution for all charges short of murder. Over the course of nine months, investigators interviewed Perez on over 50 occasions, generating more than 4,000 pages of transcripts. In these interviews, Perez implicated about 70 L.A.P.D. officers of misconduct ranging from falsifying arrests and beating suspects to drinking on the job.

Ovando Shooting
CRASH Culture
Other CRASH Officers
Perez's Own Activities
On Failing Polygraph
The Perez Process

On his first interview, two days after reaching his plea agreement, Rafael Perez provided investigators with details on how, in 1996, he and his partner, Nino Durden, had overreacted by shooting a young gang member named Javier Ovando. To justify the shooting, they had planted a gun on Ovando and then, through testimony at his trial, portrayed him as an armed assassin. Ovando, paralyzed by the shooting, received a 23 year prison sentence. But Perez made it clear he had much more to talk about. "I would say that ninety percent of the officers that work C.R.A.S.H., and not just Rampart C.R.A.S.H., falsify a lot of information," he told investigators. "They put cases on people."[1] When Dep. District Attorney Richard Rosenthal pushed Perez for details about cases that had been "put" on people, Perez explained that he would need some help. "There's so many incidents. I couldn't possibly go into every one of them," Perez said, "I can't really -- really remember all of them."[2]

To refresh his memory, Perez suggested that the investigators provide him with arrest logs from the Rampart CRASH unit. Known as "recap" books, these logs include information about the dates and circumstances of arrests and the suspects and officers involved. In addition, Perez asked for, and was given, individual arrest reports, including booking photos. In his jail cell, Perez would review the logs and reports brought to him by Task Force investigators, as many as 150 reports at a time. Arrests that he knew or believed to be problematic were put aside and later discussed during sworn interviews. From September, 1999, through May, 2000, Perez reviewed 1,509 arrest reports and identified 91 arrests involving alleged police misconduct (these 91 arrests, many of which included multiple suspects, involved approximately 160 individuals). Of the 91 "bad" arrests, 63 involved Perez himself - 44 of which, or half of the alleged misconduct, involved Perez and his partner, Nino Durden.[3]

FRONTLINE has obtained exclusive access to audio tapes of Perez's interviews. In addition to the transcripts reproduced here, twenty-nine unedited transcripts of investigators' interviews with Perez are been published on the web site of the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers.

Ovando Shooting

One of the first allegations of misconduct Perez revealed to investigators was how he and partner Nino Durden shot at, framed, and testified in court against 19-year-old unarmed gang member Javier Ovando. In the first audio excerpt below, Perez recalls the incident, and accuses Durden of initiating the shooting. In the second excerpt, while describing the ensuing coverup, he again blames Durden for creating the phony story.

Listen to this clip
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Perez: On this occasion, I'm looking out the window. I have my earpiece on for my radio. We always wore earpieces. Obviously, minutes before the actual radio call that we put out of the shooting, I hear Durden talking. I know on the report it says that we heard a bang and somebody ran through the door or whatever. That didn't occur.

But I heard voices. And that's what took my attention. And then, I hear like a "fuck". I don't mean to curse. I don't know exactly what was said. But there was "fuck" in there, you know, and some other words. That's when I turned around and started walked to where Durden was.

Obviously, you've seen the diagram. I believe there's a kitchen on this side. Then, a threshold to a door or where would be a door. And then the living room. And then there's an overturned chair.

Detective Michael Hanson: Yes.

Perez: Okay. From where I was at the window, and I started walking towards Durden.

Detective William Cox Which window were you at?

Perez: If I had the diagram -- okay. The threshold that separates the two rooms.

Cox: Okay.

Perez: The first window right there.

Cox: Okay.

Perez: Right there. The --

Det. Hanson: The kitchen window.

Det. Cox: Okay.

Perez: Yeah, it's the kitchen window.

Det. Cox: Okay.

Perez: And I don't know if there's more than one window. But it's the first window from the threshold.

Det. Cox: Okay.

Perez: As I walked back towards where Durden was, and his voice talking, is where I see Durden. As I'm walking towards Durden is when I see him pulling his gun out. And he's left-handed. So, I could see his left side. I could see him like reaching, coming up with his weapon. I come up with my weapon. Durden points out. I'm watching him. I'm coming up. Durden fires one round. I fire what I thought was one round. One round. But it turns out to be, I think I fired three rounds.

Det. Cox: Yes.

Perez: In fact, I told the shooting team that I fired one. And they counted my rounds. It was, I think they said, three or four.

Cox: I'm sorry?

Perez: Three.

Cox: Okay.

Perez: Right after that occurs, Mr. Ovando is laying on the floor. His head was closest to the door. The entrance to the actual door.

Cox: Okay.

Perez: I stay covering down on Mr. Ovando. Officer Durden walks out the door and is looking around, seeing if there's anybody else or whatever. A few minutes pass. He comes back and produces -- and if my mind serves me absolutely correct, I believe it was a red, very dirty shirt, that had the weapon wrapped in.

He stands right next to -- and very little words are said. And very few words. I mean, I don't even remember what was said.

Cox: Between you and him?

Perez: Myself and Durden. Durden stands right where the defendant would have been standing. Takes the weapon, holding the rag and the weapon, and drops it from chest level down to the ground and lets it fall.

This is the one thing that I don't remember exactly sure whether we called. No, I'm positive that we called the CRASH units first, before we called an ambulance. I know we had talked about that before. I'm almost positive that we called the CRASH units. And the first unit that showed up was Rios and Montoya. I believe it was Officer Rios who handcuffed the defendant. Officer Durden was also the one who called the R.A.

Cox: Okay.

Perez: Officer Durden, during this whole thing, I guess maybe assumed more of the responsibility because he was doing everything. I don't know if you can tell in the O.I.S. report, he did all the talking. When they first go there, he wanted to do all the talking, even though I was the senior officer. This is one of those few times where he wanted to get everything out first.

And we just went with the story. Or I just went with the story.

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Perez: When we had this meeting, we're covering procedures, all the logistics, as I mentioned earlier. And when I say "logistics" I mean the tactics, the communication. Up to where the shooting occurred, everything is covered in that meeting before all the other supervisors and captains and everybody show up, an officer-involved shooting team.

You know how everybody thinks that the officers are split up and you go sit in one room and you go sit in another room? I've never seen it happen. You get together with your supervisor and the officers involved, and you discuss everything. And then, that's your story.

Detective William Cox: When did you and Durden get your story together about what happened?

Perez: The story went as everything occurred, that was what happened, as far as we were concerned. In other words, where we fired from, that stayed true to form, as to how it happened.

Cox: But Mr. Ovando coming into the room, when did you guys get that together?

Perez: That actually came together when Durden was -- like I said earlier, that Durden was doing all the talking. Remember I told you that Durden was doing all the talking? And I just listened to him. And as he was telling the story to Ortiz, I'm going, "Okay. That's exactly how it happened. Yes."

CRASH Culture

In his interviews with investigators, Perez makes a number of allegations which point toward a culture of corruption endemic to the L.A.P.D.'s elite anti-gang CRASH unit. In the first excerpt below, Perez alleges that 90% percent of CRASH officers were involved in misconduct, including framing innocent people. In the second excerpt, he reveals the CRASH motto: "We intimidate those who intimidate others." In the third excerpt, Perez tells how those officers "in the loop" were willing to perjure themselves to Internal Affairs. In the fourth excerpt, Perez describes the plaques that CRASH officers gave each other for shooting suspects, while in the fifth excerpt he depicts how CRASH officers carried spare guns in their "war bags" to plant on suspects. In the final excerpt, Perez alleges that CRASH supervisors tacitly encouraged questionable arrests.

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Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: The next question, before we get back to the shooting incident we talked about in court: is there any other police officer, whom either you know was engaged in criminal conduct or you believe might have been engaged in criminal conduct, based upon what you saw, that [we] have not identified so far?

Perez: I'm going to make a very broad statement. And you're not going to like it. It's not good. There's a thing called being "in the loop," being involved. I was not in the loop or involved in anything, as far as police-wise 'til maybe '95, when I joined CRASH

When I got into CRASH-- before then, I had no concept of what certain officers do. I can tell you this. And you can put me on a polygraph. Oh, well, I know I'm going to be on a polygraph. But --

Rosenthal: Yes, you will.

Perez: Oh, I know. And I can say this. And you can ask me this directly on the polygraph. I would say that ninety percent of the officers that work CRASH, and not just Rampart CRASH, falsify a lot of information. They put cases on people. And I know that's not a good thing to hear. I know that's very broad.

But the first time I saw certain things, I didn't realize that, like I said until '95, when I joined CRASH I didn't see a lot of these things. I just didn't. I was a patrol guy. I worked Narcotics. Just did my normal job. And I'm not, number one, proud of this. You know, it hurts me to say it. But there's a lot of crooked stuff going in with L.A.P.D., especially L.A.P.D. specialized units.

You go to the Short Stop [a local bar] and you hear, you know, 77th CRASH and Rampart CRASH get into a shooting. We used to be at the benches up in the Academy and we talk about how things went down. How they really went down and how they were fixed up. Whether it's Sonny Garcia's shooting of -- working Narcotics, supposedly, the suspect went after his gun, when actually he was running after the guy and the gun went off accidentally.

There's so many incidents. I couldn't possibly go into every one of them. Because I can't really remember all of them. What I'm saying is, specialized units need to be looked at, because there is -- and believe me when I tell you -- if there was 15 officers in CRASH, 13 of them were putting cases on people.

Rosenthal: When you say "putting cases on people" do you mean manufacturing probable cause, or do you mean actually, in essence, framing somebody who did not do something for a crime?

Perez: Both. Both.

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Perez: The Rampart CRASH unit motto -- the current motto was "We intimidate those who intimidate others." That was our motto. The motto before I got there, and I don't know if you can check the books or whatever, when a three-strikes thing came up, their goal and their motto was that they will have a record for putting more third-strikers in jail than any other unit. No matter how they did it.

When you get into a unit, they always tell you the history of the unit. We have roll call meetings. Here's where this unit came from. Here's what we stand for. This is what we do. This is Rampart CRASH And it's been a long history of Rampart CRASH

And their motto and their forte back then, was that they're gonna put more third-strikers in jail than anybody. Bottom line. And that's what they bragged about. You know, the Richardsons, the Lujans, all the officers that were there from, you know, '93, '94. That's what they were doing. That was their thing. They put a lot of people in jail.

Detective Michael Hohan:: And when you say "by any means" does that mean by planting evidence, perjured testimony, falsifying probable cause, those types of things?

Perez: All of the above, yes.

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Detective William Cox: But "in the loop", what does that mean, Ray?

Perez: Like I said earlier, "in the loop" means someone who is willing to take it to the box. And what [does] "take it to the box" mean? Uh, someone who is willing to perjure themselves --

Cox: Okay.

Perez: -- to Internal Affairs when they come by and say, "Hey, did this happen? Did this guy get beat up?" And the guy's gonna go, "No." Well, we saw this guy who said that he saw you. No.

Cox: Fix a shooting? That could be in the loop?

Perez: From that spectrum all the way on down.

Cox: Okay.

Perez: That's what I mean by that.

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Perez: I have worked with Sgt. Hoopes in other aspects. He comes to all our mug parties. The plaque that you probably saw in my house, you know what that plaque is even about? That CRASH plaque that has the two red hearts. With a red heart and two bullets in it. And the gun.

Detective Mark Thompson: Eight. Aces and eights?

Perez: Yeah, aces and eights. Do you guys know what that is?

Thompson: What is that for?

Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: Tell us.

Perez: Sgt. Hoopes gave me that plaque for the Ovando shooting. That's what that is. We give plaques out when you get involved in shootings. If the guy dies, the card is black number two. If he stays alive, it's a red number two. I didn't know if you guys knew that or not.

Rosenthal: Is it more prestigious to get one that is black than red?

Perez: I'm assuming so. I mean, yeah. I mean, the black one signifies that a guy died. The red one means that it was a hit, but not fatal.

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Detective Michael Hohan:: Now, what you just implied, and I just want to understand if I'm taking this correctly: you guys would recover guns or other property at times and not book it?

Perez: Mmnh-mmnh.

Hohan: In the sense of the guns, was that so that you kept them as drop guns?

Perez: Mmnh-mmnh.

Hohan: For bad shootings?

Perez: Mmnh-mmnh. Yeah.

Hohan: Okay.

Perez: Yes. Or sometimes it was just a matter of not wanting to book it because there's no body with it, so why book it?

Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: Well, where would you keep these guns?

Perez: Anywhere. You know, officers carry war bags. Maybe not now with everything that's going on, but if you did a random sweep -- one time there was a sweep done, because somebody had said that somebody was carrying illegal bullets, you know, back in the day before the slugs or whatever, we were allowed to carry them. I mean, they had every unit come into the station and searched their trunk. You know, if you were to do that to the CRASH unit on one occasion, you would be amazed at what you would find in an officer's war bag.

I mean, like Durden was carrying that bag in one of his backpacks, in his war bag. And this was a pretty big gun, if I remember correctly, the Tech .22. He has, you know, backpacks with binoculars in it and tape. And he's one of those handy guys who carries everything in these little bags.

But yeah, officers would just carry them in what we call a war bag. And you carry that in the back of your black-and-white. And at the end of the night, you either throw [it] in your locker, or in the back of your truck in the parking lot, and just kept it there.

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Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: Let me make sure we understand that. I didn't take it, from what you said, that supervisors would actually come in and say, "Hey, you're doing a great job. Continue doing what you're doing. But don't tell us about it."

Perez: Right.

Rosenthal: I took it that that is your interpretation of how they're reacting. Is that correct?

Perez: Yes. Yes and no.

Rosenthal: Okay.

Perez: Like I said, all the supervisors that we've had, supervisors that worked CRASH before and would come and talk to us in roll call, would always come and tell us the history of CRASH

"What you guys are doing, only a select few can do. You guys put bad people in jail. You're not out finding the average citizen and put them in jail. You're putting bad guys, who we know have done bad things, but they intimidate witnesses, so they don't get arrested for the drive-by. Go out there and basically do what you're doing. Keep doing what you're doing. Put these people in jail."

And it was, "If we break up a big party, it doesn't matter if we saw you, the citizen, carrying that gun. You're not the one that's gonna go to jail. 'Cause we know probably that gangster over there is telling you to hold it for him." Or at least that's our mentality.

Rosenthal: It sounds to me like the legitimate statements, in essence, or arguments that are being made by the supervisors, are, "Look, we can't get them for a drive-by, because nobody will talk, but you guys are going out there and you're finding dope on them, you're finding guns on them, you're putting bad guys in who should be put away. And who are doing even worse things, but you guys are doing what the average citizen can't do because they're scared." Is that a correct --

Perez: Yes.

Rosenthal: -- interpretation?

Perez: Right. And the thing about it is that we would have supervisor after supervisor, you know, old supervisors that worked CRASH, if it wasn't Lt. Hill or Capt. Morans -- Capt. Morans would come to our roll calls, at least once every other month, I would say.

And he would say, "I read your reports when they come through. You guys are doing a great job. You guys got my full support." I mean, not once that I can remember did I hear a supervisor say, "Well, this arrest is questionable. How is it that you guys have a party and you guys all see five of these people running out of the house and they're carrying the guns and dropped them?" Not once did a supervisor say that. And I know it's kind of difficult to understand. But when you sit there in a roll call room knowing what you just did, let's say for this party, for instance. And the next day, three supervisors come by your roll call and tell you, "That was a great arrest. Good job. Put five idiots in jail. That's a good job."

And you know what they're telling you. You know that they know. If they even glance at the report, you know they know. You know that they know. And it's like, you know, only a few chosen people can do what you guys do. And that's why you guys are selected to work CRASH And this is what needs to be done.

I know a lot of people don't want to know how it's done. But I guarantee you there's a lot of happy people that we're putting these gang members in jail. That was the consensus. That was the mentality, that we're putting these bad guys in jail.

Other CRASH Officers

In a September 1999 interview, investigators asked Perez about the extent to which individual officers within the CRASH unit were involved in the corrupt practices. In the first excerpt below, Perez contends that although Officer Brian Liddy knew about the misconduct, he would characterize him as "a good officer." However, in a later interview he alleges that along with several other officers, Liddy fabricated a charge of assault with a deadly weapon on a police officer. Based on Perez's allegations in the second excerpt below, Liddy and three other officers were tried in October 2000 on charges of perjury, planting evidence and filing false police reports.

In the third excerpt, Perez talks about Officer Brian Hewitt, who was fired for allegedly beating a suspect in the Rampart police station. He describes Hewitt as an officer who "gets off" on beating people.

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Detective Sargent John Cook: Officer Brian Liddy?

Perez: Liddy also knew that things were going on. And Liddy also, I categorize him as a very good officer. A lot of good obs arrests. "Obs" meaning observations arrests.

Cook: Did you ever see him plant dope, plant narcotics? I mean, plant guns, fabricate P.C. [probable cause], perjure himself?

Perez: The most I've seen him do was fabricate some P.C. But could he be trusted? He could be trusted that if we told him the worst of the worst, he's gonna go, "Okay. I'm gonna go along with the story." But he himself wouldn't really be involved in doing things.

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Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: All right. Why did you identify this report?

Perez: The reason I asked to have that report pulled to the side, because I have direct knowledge regarding some of the things that were written on that report, things that were fabricated in order to affect an arrest, probable cause, as well as prima facie to the crime.

Reading the report, I read that Defendant Munoz drove his vehicle southbound in the alley hitting Officer Buchanan. And that the passenger of the vehicle opened his door and knocked over, or hitting Officer Liddy. Well, none of that actually occurred. That's what we decided to come up with after they were all taken into custody, in order to arrest them. That's what we came up with. Rosenthal: But what actually occurred?

Perez: What actually occurred was -- pretty much everything is correct. When we went into the alley and started walking northbound towards the defendants, they got into their truck. And they started driving southbound. And they were traveling at about 25 miles an hour. But they just went right past us. We're looking and there's nothing we can do. They were on their way down the alley. And we just let them go by.

As they went out of the alley, out onto, I believe it was Clayton, they went to make that left-hand turn. However, they struck a tree.

At that point, they bailed out and started running. One was taken into custody. On the report, I believe it says Liddy took them in custody. I believe Brehm took them into custody. Liddy wasn't there when he was taken into custody. Liddy was still in the alley with us.

And then, the other defendant, a perimeter was set. And he was eventually captured by a K-9 and taken into custody.

Rosenthal: Okay. Now, was the car damaged at all when it struck the tree?

Perez: There was some damage that was caused to the vehicle, to substantiate the injury or the ADW on a P.O. [assault with deadly weapon on a police officer] with a vehicle on Officer Buchanan. He was directed to do some damage to the windshield.

Rosenthal: What about damage to himself?

Perez: I'm not sure exactly when it occurred. There was some talk about some damage to his trousers and some scratches or something on his pant leg. That was also, if I remember correctly -- and I do remember correctly -- that was all fabricated. That was all put there. Dirt on his pants, a rip in his pants -- all of that was fabricated so that we could substantiate the ADW on a P.O. that supposedly, he got with the truck. And he flew over the truck and landed on the ground, or whatever. None of that actually occurred.

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Perez: Hewitt is -- there's people that they get off on turning witnesses or turning people into informants. Or, you know, "I can get this guy to roll over. I can get this guy to do this."

Hewitt has a thing for beating up people. That's just his thing. He would rather beat you up. Let's say he catches you dirty, he would rather beat you to a pulp and then, say, "Okay. We're even now, right? You know, you didn't go to jail. I beat you up. I let you go. And we're even," than to just, "Okay. I got you dirty. Let's go. You're going to jail." He'd much rather give you a break and beat you to a pulp than arrest you. It's just his thrill. It's what he gets off on.

I mean, I don't know how else to put it to you as far as -- when all this first started, I had said how I fear certain officers. And Hewitt is one of them. Hewitt is very, very, very dangerous. If I would have to categorize him, let's say he's a criminal. You know, you have those criminals who see an old lady and they take her purse and start running. And just, you know, they got their purse.

He's the kind that would knock her over, make her fall and break her hip, then take her purse and go. That's where I put Hewitt as far as his mentality and his actions as a police officer, the things that he did.

Perez's Own Activity

In addition to following up on Perez's allegations of criminality within the L.A.P.D., investigators also asked him questions about his own criminal activities. In the first excerpt below, Perez recounts how he stole cocaine from the L.A.P.D. property room and replaced it with flour. In the second excerpt, Perez states that he was not involved in any criminal activity before he met his CRASH partner Nino Durden. In the third exceprt, Perez denies any knowledge of or involvement in the bank robbery committed by his former partner David Mack.

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Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: While you're looking, there is one question I think everybody has, which is what did you switch the dope with?

Perez: Flour. Flour that I would purchase either at 3rd and Vermont or 3rd and La Brea. It was always flour.

Rosenthal: And did you weigh it beforehand?

Perez: On most of them I did. On a couple it was either impatient or something. You know, there wasn't enough to -- it was one of those small, little scales. And it was just too much to try and fit it all, balance it on the scale itself. So, I just sort of just guesstimated.

Rosenthal: How would you get the dope to switch? How would you put the D.R. number?

Perez: It was just narcotics that I knew it was going to weight exactly a certain amount. A lot of these cases, the dope that was ordered up was always a quarter, or two quarters, or a half.

So I knew that the narcotics that was going to be checked out, was going to be exactly a quarter. So, I knew that if I got eight quarters from different places, I can get a pound or a key, or whatever it came up to. And it was dope that I was either familiar with or had some involvement with. And I knew that it was going to be righteous dope. It wasn't something that somebody booked and it was kind of bunk or not bunk, you know what I mean?

Rosenthal: Mmnh-mmnh.

Perez: Most of the time, I was trying to make sure it was righteous dope.

Rosenthal: How did you come up with this idea?

Perez: To doing the switches?

Rosenthal: Yeah.

Perez: I know that when I told myself that, I said there's no way they would ever find out. I mean, if you really think about it, unless on that March 2nd one, if I would have done the switch there, who would have ever known?

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Perez: I didn't like Nino. I never really liked Nino. You know how you guys were wondering whether we were real friends? We're not friends. We just worked together. I never went out with him, went out clubbing or anything that he was saying. I never did. I didn't want him in the unit. I just didn't like his attitude. I just never did.

Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: What didn't you like about his attitude?

Perez: He was a probationer down in 77th CRASH Or he worked those last few months down in 77th CRASH He had the 77th CRASH tattoo. He came down to Rampart, you know, "Man, 77th, this is how we do it." That type of attitude, you know? Wearing the 77th CRASH jacket at Rampart now. Just something I just didn't really -- you know, you see each other, you're kind of standoffish when you're walking down the hallway.

But my wife and his girlfriend knew each other. She kept asking my wife to get him in the unit. And the way [the] unit works, is you either sponsor somebody or you vote them in. I sponsored him in. When you sponsor somebody in, that means you will work with them. If he screws up, you'll get rid of him. That type of thing. I mean, get rid of him out of the unit. You know what I'm saying? "Listen, we tried it. It didn't work out. And you have to go." So, when you sponsor somebody, you have to work with them. That is your partner, 'cause you're vouching for him.

Up until before, I believe it was May of 1997, I had never ever taken $20 from a narcotics dealer. Never ever sold any narcotics. Never committed a crime. I don't know what it was. But Durden just had this way of saying things that was kind of very influential. He would say things to you, like the very first time we had made a bust. And I told him, "Hey, book the money and the drugs. I'm gonna write the report."

And he calls me up and he goes, "Man, there's like a thousand dollars here." And I'm like, "Yeah." "Well, shit, we ain't got to book all of it." And he said it in a manner which everybody's doing it. He said in that way and I was like, "Man, book the money." And he goes, "Nah, I ain't booking all this money." And I was like, "All right. Whatever." And he didn't book all the money. But then he gave me half. And I took it.

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Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: But one question I think everyone will be interested in, and we only have a couple of minutes, is do you know anything about the bank robbery with Mack? Were you involved in any way?

Perez: I've said this from the beginning. And early on, in fact, when the FBI agents came to interview me, without an attorney, I was interviewed. I offered to take a polygraph right then and there. They said, "No, that's not necessary." I did not know anything prior, during, or after. When David Mack was arrested, I was as surprised -- in fact, my wife called me, because there was a press release. And I hadn't heard about it. I was as surprised as anybody.

Supposedly, we went to Vegas together two days or three days after the bank robbery.

Rosenthal: Right.

Perez: He gave no indication that he had done anything. As a matter of fact, we were calling him cheap because he only put in like ten bucks towards the gas. I used my truck. And, in fact, he was not gonna go to Vegas. 'Cause we met at the station. We all met at the station to go.

He decided that he was gonna go at the last minute. But I did not know anything about the bank robbery. Not involved in anything about the bank robbery. Did not have any knowledge. He never said anything to me about a bank robbery. Any of that nature.

Rosenthal: The Vegas trip you brought somebody with you?

Perez: Yes.

Rosenthal: Who?

Perez: Myself, Sammy Martin, him and Quesada.

Rosenthal: Okay. So, you have no idea what he did with all that money?

Perez: None.

Rosenthal: Now, you have to understand there is a concern here. Because it seems just remarkable, frankly, that you and Mack were partners, friends, involved in a shooting together, and both of you independently, you know, one became a bank robber, and one became a drug dealer. That seems like a remarkable coincidence. And you're saying it is a coincidence?

Perez: I'm going to be put on a polygraph, believe me.

Rosenthal: Yes.

Perez: I will. I will.

Rosenthal: You are.

Perez: I will be. I'm putting everything on the table.

Rosenthal: All right. What about --

Perez: You guys think that David Mack is a very, very good friend of mine, for some reason. Before, we went on that Vegas trip, and after I stopped working with him in Narcotics, I have seen David Mack maybe four or five times. Once was on a cruise. One was we got together as a family; wives and family. David Mack is a friend and a person who saved my life. I don't know if you know about that incident.

Rosenthal: Yes.

Perez: I had a gun to my head. And he did what, you know -- what, you know.

Rosenthal: So, that O.I.S. [officer involved shooting] report was true?

Perez: Oh, that's very accurate and very true, yes. All of it. I mean, that's all true.

Rosenthal: But --

Perez: So, I considered him a very good friend who saved my life. Was I involved in that bank robbery? No. Was this a big coincidence that we both end up in this kind of trouble? Or he ends up in that type of trouble, and I -- it's a very big coincidence.

On Failing Polygraph

One of the conditions of Perez's plea bargain was that he fully cooperate with investigators in order to retain his immunity. Investigators gave Perez a series of five polygraph examinations in November and December of 1999. When the results came back, Perez was found to be deceptive on each polygraph. The tests were later examined and found to be faulty by experts for both the prosecutors and the defense. In an emotional statement to investigators in January 2000, Perez insists that he has been truthful throughout the interview process.

Listen to this clip
3:58 / realplayer g2
Deputy District Attorney Richard Rosenthal: Before we begin, Mr. Perez, there was a statement you wanted to give?

Perez: Well, more of a comment, or --

Rosenthal: All right.

Perez: -- whatever you want to call it. I don't know what to call it. September of last year, you know, I came forward with some information regarding L.A.P.D. and what's being called a corruption scandal, or whatever it's being called.

I came forward for a lot of different reasons. And I'm not getting into that. At any rate, I came forward. And I've tried to be as cooperative as I possibly can. I've talked about everything I can. Some things I can't remember. Some things I do remember very clearly.

I've tried to be as cooperative as I possibly can, knowing full well that I'm going to be taking polygraphs. And I thought, I actually honestly believed that the polygraphs were gonna be -- every case I gave, I was gonna be asked questions about each and every one. I didn't know how the polygraphs were gonna be conducted. I actually thought each case I was gonna be [asked] questions about. I thought the polygraphs were gonna take a month. When I heard it was gonna be a couple of days, a couple of questions, I don't know.

But, in other words, when I gave all my statements, I knew exactly what I was saying. I remember what I was saying. If I didn't remember, I wouldn't say it. I don't say it. I'm just not gonna say it, knowing full well that I was gonna take polygraphs. And I took polygraphs. And when I finished my polygraphs, I was very confident. I felt very comfortable. I felt that the polygrapher did a good job. I really did.

I felt that I did well. I mean, as matter of fact, like I told my attorney, I actually was gonna come running to you guys as soon as the results were in and say, "Listen, I'd like to just hold my daughter for five minutes, if I can. I mean, we've gone through the polygraphs."

That's how confident I am. That's what I was doing sitting in my bed in my cell thinking about. When the results came back, I can tell you that I've lost an incredible amount of faith. Because I know what's inside of me. None of you guys know. None of you guys. Even Kevin [Perez's attorney] doesn't know what's going on inside of me.

I know what I did. I know what I've done. And all of you guys can look at me like a monster, or the worst person in the world. And I deserve that. But all of that I did myself. That polygraph, I didn't do. That was not my mistake. That wasn't something that I did wrong. Because I took that polygraph and answered every question truthfully. And I know I didn't lie on a single question.

And then, to get a result from a -- 'cause my attorney went out and asked people that he knew who is the best polygrapher in the West Coast. It doesn't matter who he was. We wanted the best. We're not looking for some cheap polygrapher over here around the corner who will do it out of the back of his truck, or something like that. The best polygrapher. And for him to confirm that that polygraph -- and, I think everybody knows what the results of the polygraph were. And what the conclusion was from this expert, I think everybody knows.

Rosenthal: Mr. Gelb.

Perez: Yes.

Rosenthal: Mr. Gelb. Uh, Dr. Gelb. G-e-l-b.

Perez: After receiving those results, number one, when my attorney told me, it didn't surprise me. I mean, I don't know if you expected me to go, "See what I mean? See what I mean?" Because I knew that there was something wrong. When you were telling me that "You failed," I told you, "I'm not the only one taking this polygraph. There's other people taking this polygraph. And there's something really wrong here."

Mr. Ortiz did not treat me wrong. He was very polite and all that. But there's something wrong with his technique or how he's giving an exam. And that's my point to you. He did something wrong, not me. You can blame me for everything else, all the things that have happened in CRASH, a lot of the crimes I've committed. Those are my fault.

And I'm paying every day. I pay every day. I'm completely fine with paying with [for] what I've done. I have no problem with that. But that is not my fault. Those polygraphs are not my fault. ...

[1] Ibid.

[2] Ibid.

[3] "Synopsis of Methodology Utilized in Identification of Criminal and Administrative Misconduct Alleged by Raphael Perez," Intradepartmental Correspondence from Detective Stan Nalywaiko, Rampart Corruption Task Force to Dep. DA Richard Rosenthal, November 21, 2000.

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