LA police in mire of widespread corruption

IT IS unlikely to be a happy new year for the Los Angeles police. Already mired in one of the worst corruption scandals in its history, the force had hoped to kick off the new millennium with a relatively straightforward, headline-catching vice case - the trial of Jody "Babydol" Gibson, a Hollywood madam in the Heidi Fleiss tradition with, it is alleged, a tantalising client list of the rich and famous.

But, as the trial date of 7 January looms, things are not looking promising for the prosecu- tion. Sources close to the investigation, quoted prominently in the Los Angeles Times, have alleged that the only reason the client names were expunged from the court record - itself a questionable notion - was because they included political supporters of the Los Angeles district attorney, Gil Garcetti.

The undercover police agent who successfully lured an alleged member of the prostitution ring to an assignation at the Century Plaza Hotel appears to have indulged in some very peculiar behaviour before making the arrest.

According to court deposition papers, the detective, Raz Kertenian, stripped naked with two alleged prostitutes and had a back-rub before revealing his identity and issuing the warrants. The defence alleges that he went so far as to have sex with one of the girls, paying $1,000 in taxpayers' money for it. "A detective doesn't have to go that far to bust a prostitute," said Harland Braun, a criminal defence lawyer and former federal prosecutor.

Once again, it seems, the LAPD is going to end up looking foolish, louche and politically suspect. In the past year, the force has blown every hard- won piece of credibility it had built up since the 1992 Los Angeles riots - first with a series of questionable shootings of largely helpless civilians, and then with the explosion of a corruption scandal whose shockwaves are yet to be fully felt.

Back in September, a police officer caught stealing cocaine from the evidence room started talking about the horrors being perpetrated at his anti-gang unit in the Mid City area. The officer, Rafael Perez, admitted framing an innocent 19-year-old for murder and shooting him in the head to make it look as though he and a colleague had been forced to fire in self-defence.

And that was just the start. By now, more than a dozen officers have been relieved of their duties and hundreds, possibly thousands, of cases will be reviewed on the grounds that the police evidence leading to convictions may have been tainted. A system of so-called anti-gang injunctions - restrictions on the civil rights of suspected gangs in specific areas of Los Angeles - has also been severely shaken.

With each passing week, evidence emerges that cases at Mr Perez's division were based on fabrication, evidence-planting and even ferocious police brutality and gun violence. Some of the suspected gang members, whose convictions have been overturned, began talking about the way the police treated them, suggesting that police corruption permeates every part of the LAPD confronted with poor or crime-ridden communities.

Despite the broadening scandal, however, it is not clear how seriously the evidence is being taken. One exonerated gang member, Ruben Rojas, has offered evidence of senior officers being present at evidence-planting sessions, but claims prosecutors "act like they're just not interested". It may be no coincidence that the district attorney, Mr Garcetti, is up for re-election this year, or that the city attorney, James Hahn, architect of the anti-gang injunctions, is considering running for mayor of Los Angeles. Politically, the police scandal needs to be contained if it is not to end up embarrassing the whole power elite.

Public opinion also appears to be less than scandalised in a city where violent crime is down markedly and "tough on crime" policies are popular at the ballot box. Last week, east of LA, in Claremont, two officers who shot dead an 18-year-old black student last January were honoured as city employees of the year and city police officers of the year. "If anyone wants to make an issue of it, that's their problem," said Claremont's police chief, Robert Moody.

News
scienceExcitement from alien hunters at 'evidence' of extraterrestrial life
Life and Style
Customers can get their caffeine fix on the move
food + drink
News
newsRyan Crighton goes in search of the capo dei capi
Extras
indybest

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn evocation of the conflict through the eyes of those who lived through it
Arts and Entertainment
Actors front row from left, Jared Leto, Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, Ellen DeGeneres, Bradley Cooper, Peter Nyongío Jr., and, second row, from left, Channing Tatum, Julia Roberts, Kevin Spacey, Brad Pitt, Lupita Nyongío and Angelina Jolie as they pose for a
film
Sport
sport
Life and Style
techCould new invention save millions in healthcare bills?
Sport
David Moyes gets soaked
sport Moyes becomes latest manager to take part in the ALS challenge
Voices
A meteor streaks across the sky during the Perseid Meteor Shower at a wind farm near Bogdanci, south of Skopje, Macedonia, in the early hours of 13 August
voicesHagel and Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise, says Robert Fisk
News
peopleEnglishman managed quintessential Hollywood restaurant Chasen's
Life and Style
food + drinkHarrods launches gourmet food qualification for staff
Arts and Entertainment
Michael Flatley prepares to bid farewell to the West End stage
danceMichael Flatley hits West End for last time alongside Team GB World champion Alice Upcott
Life and Style
Horst P Horst mid-fashion shoot in New York, 1949
fashionFar-reaching retrospective to celebrate Horst P Horst's six decades of creativity
News
Members and supporters of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) community walk with a rainbow flag during a rally in July
i100
Life and Style
Black Ivory Coffee is made using beans plucked from elephants' waste after ingested by the animals
food + drinkFirm says it has created the "rarest" coffee in the world
Life and Style
news

As Voltaire once said, “Ice cream is exquisite. What a pity it isn’t illegal”

Life and Style
food + drinkThese simple recipes will have you refreshed within minutes
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fund, London

£50000 - £60000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer - CCNP, Hedge Fu...

Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Multicast, Low Latency

£60000 - £70000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Senior Network Engineer-CCIE, Mul...

Network Infrastructure Engineer

£30000 - £50000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Infrastructure Engineer (...

Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Multicast)

£35000 - £45000 per annum: Harrington Starr: Network Engineer (CCNP, BGP, Mult...

Day In a Page

All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Robert Fisk: All this talk of an ‘apocalyptic’ threat is simply childish

Chuck Hagel and Martin Dempsey were pure Hollywood. They only needed Tom Cruise
Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

Mafia Dons: is the Camorra in control of the Granite City?

So claims an EU report which points to the Italian Mob’s alleged grip on everything from public works to property
Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Emmys look set to overhaul the Oscars as Hollywood’s prize draw

Once the poor relation, the awards show now has the top stars and boasts the best drama
What happens to African migrants once they land in Italy during the summer?

What happens to migrants once they land in Italy?

Memphis Barker follows their trail through southern Europe
French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

French connection: After 1,300 years, there’s a bridge to Mont Saint-Michel

The ugly causeway is being dismantled, an elegant connection erected in its place. So everyone’s happy, right?
Frank Mugisha: Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked

Frank Mugisha: 'Coming out was a gradual process '

Uganda's most outspoken gay rights activist on changing people's attitudes, coming out, and the threat of being attacked
Radio 1 to hire 'YouTube-famous' vloggers to broadcast online

Radio 1’s new top ten

The ‘vloggers’ signed up to find twentysomething audience
David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

David Abraham: Big ideas for the small screen

A blistering attack on US influence on British television has lifted the savvy head of Channel 4 out of the shadows
Florence Knight's perfect picnic: Make the most of summer's last Bank Holiday weekend

Florence Knight's perfect picnic

Polpetto's head chef shares her favourite recipes from Iced Earl Grey tea to baked peaches, mascarpone & brown sugar meringues...
Horst P Horst: The fashion photography genius who inspired Madonna comes to the V&A

Horst P Horst comes to the V&A

The London's museum has delved into its archives to stage a far-reaching retrospective celebrating the photographer's six decades of creativity
Mark Hix recipes: Try our chef's summery soups for a real seasonal refresher

Mark Hix's summery soups

Soup isn’t just about comforting broths and steaming hot bowls...
Tim Sherwood column: 'It started as a three-horse race but turned into the Grand National'

Tim Sherwood column

I would have taken the Crystal Palace job if I’d been offered it soon after my interview... but the whole process dragged on so I had to pull out
Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard: Young, gifted... not yet perfect

Eden Hazard admits he is still below the level of Ronaldo and Messi but, after a breakthrough season, is ready to thrill Chelsea’s fans
Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

Tim Howard: I’m an old dog. I don’t get too excited

The Everton and US goalkeeper was such a star at the World Cup that the President phoned to congratulate him... not that he knows what the fuss is all about
Match of the Day at 50: Show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition

Tom Peck on Match of the Day at 50

The show reminds us that even the most revered BBC institution may have a finite lifespan – thanks to the opposition