In February 2000, Rafael Perez was sentenced for stealing eight pounds of
cocaine from a police evidence room. Under the plea bargain that he worked out
with prosecutors, he received five years in prison. In the following excerpts
from his tearful apology at his sentencing, Perez warns other officers to "use
me as an example of who you will avoid becoming."
. . . This is the day that my punishment for having stolen narcotics is handed
down, though it does not take into account my greatest transgressions.
While sitting in my cell it dawned on me this would be my chance to . . .
publicly apologize and ask for forgiveness for having violated the law, having
violated several vows and oaths I've made to my wife, the citizens of Los
Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department.
But then the realization began to sink in, what exactly could I possibility say
. . . that would be strong enough or genuine enough to warrant my pardon. . .
The atrocities that were committed by myself and those who stand accused are
The City of Los Angeles had and has a right, among other things, to a fair and
just system of policing. Those rights in so many ways were violated.
Ever since I was a young boy living in Philadelphia, I dreamed of becoming a
police officer. In June of 1989, that dream came true. For many years I
proudly wore a badge of honor and integrity and enforced the laws in the
standards befitting a Los Angeles police officer. . . .
In the Rampart CRASH unit things began to change. The lines between right and
wrong became fuzzy and indistinct. The "us" against "them" ethos of the
overzealous cop began to consume me and the ends seemed to justify the means.
We vaguely sensed we were doing the wrong things for the right reasons.
Time and again, I stepped over that line. Once crossed, I hurdled over it
again and again, landing with both feet, sometimes on innocent persons. . .
My job became an intoxicant that I lusted after. By then, I began to lust also
for things of the flesh. The end result, I cheated on my wife. I cheated on my
employer, and I cheated on all of you, the people of Los Angeles.
It didn't occur to me that was I destroying lives. The lives of those whom we
victimized and their families who loved them, the life of my wife whom I love
beyond all reason, and indeed my very own life.
I won't offer excuses as none could cure the pain experienced by the people I
hurt, namely all of the wrongly accused and convicted, my family and friends,
the criminal justice system, and the Los Angeles Police Department.
To those people in organizations that I have hurt, in such a profound way, and
to the public at large, I now tell you with every beat of my heart and soul,
that I am truly, truly sorry. I am also sorry for ruining the public's trust
in their police department.
By revealing the unpleasant truths behind the badge that at one point I so
proudly wore, I hope to right some of the many wrongs. . . . I will make every
effort now and until the successful conclusion of this investigation to
cooperate, provide insight and knowledge as to what went wrong at Rampart
CRASH. . . .
There is no justification for my misdeeds, either on or off duty. I can only
say that I succumbed to the seductress of power.
Used wrongfully it is a power that can bend the will of a man to satisfy a
lustful moment. It can open locked vaults to facilitate theft. It can even
subvert justice to hand down a lifetime behind bars.
On the latter, I apologize to the courts and the juries that were my unwitting
accomplices on those occasions that I wanted to secure convictions.
Besides the exoneration of the innocent persons, what I most want at this time
is to remind the greenest rookie cops that they too have this power. If used
wrongfully. . . . [that power] can plant a defendant's feet firmly on the path
to the death house. . . . They need only to look to me and my impending prison
sentence, to remind them that for whatever reason they might have to consider
placing a finger on the scales of justice, it is morally indefensible and
contrary to our constitution.
I will ask rookie and young police officer alike to periodically revisit their
oath and the reason they entered law enforcement.
I will ask that you use me as an example of who you will avoid becoming. Do
not let the pressure of status, numbers and impressing supervisors dictate the
type of officer you become.
The moment you cross that first line, it will be impossible to step back.
To the young officers, I want to leave you with some admonishments. Listen
very closely because these are words that I wish someone would have shared with
I want to admonish you that you will be enticed by fancy mottos and phrases
that will make you believe that there is a purpose and a reason for what they
want you to do and what they want you to be.
You will hear such things as "solid," "loyal," "can be trusted" . . . "hunt for
the big elephant," "special chosen group," "if you deviate you articulate," and
I admonish you to closely evaluate what you are being told with those words. I
assure you that they will pale in comparison for what you will eventually be:
shameful, regretful and disappointed.
Above the threshold of doors that lead to CRASH offices, you will read such
philosophical statements as: "Some rise by sin and some by virtue fall," as
well as "We intimidate those who intimidate others."
To those mottos, I offer this: Whoever chases monsters should see to it that
in the process he does not become a monster himself.
Judge Perry, I thank you and this court for its indulgence in its
even-handedness in dealing with me through one trial and the preparation of
another. I apologize for having taken up the court's time and for earlier
wanting more than the justice due me.
I would also like to thank Mr. Winston Kevin McKesson, my attorney who worked
so tirelessly on my behalf. He is just as irreplaceable as an attorney as he
is a friend.
To my wife, whom I think is an incredible woman for having stood by me through
all this, who asked me how could she have missed what was going on, I can only
say this: I was living two unmistakable lives. Each day the bad would consume
a little of the good. You were right. I was wrong. I was wrong. I pray that
one day, I can demonstrate my worthiness of being forgiven.
I want to thank Jehovah God who has guided me through this road that I must
travel. I thank you for blessing me with a second chance at life. My second
half, I intend to live it wisely and without regrets. Thank you.
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