LOS ANGELES (AP) _ An investigation into police conduct is larger than authorities have publicly acknowledged and now includes at least seven questionable shootings by officers, the Los Angeles Times reported today.
The corruption probe has focused on allegations that officers in the Rampart neighborhood near downtown shot unarmed suspects, planted evidence and covered up their actions.
A police spokesman declined comment on specifics of the newspaper’s report, but acknowledged that the probe is looking at all areas of the department, not just Rampart officers.
``Those officers and detectives are doing a thorough investigation,″ said Officer Jason Lee. ``Until they come out with their findings, we won’t be able to say anything.″
Internal affairs investigators say a sergeant in an anti-gang unit told officers to plant guns on unarmed suspects and even helped stage fictitious crime scenes, the newspaper said.
The sergeant has been relieved of duty after allegedly ``quarterbacking the whole thing,″ according to Lt. Dan Hoffman, a robbery-homicide supervisor in charge of investigations of officer-involved shootings.
Hoffman made the remarks Thursday at a briefing attended by LAPD officers, the Times reported.
Hoffman also said the department believes some officers from the anti-gang unit stole drugs from dealers and recruited prostitutes to sell them for the officers’ own profit, the Times said.
Many of the allegations involving the Rampart station come from Rafael Perez, an LAPD officer who is cooperating with investigators in exchange for a reduced sentence on a cocaine theft conviction.
Perez has implicated himself and his former partner, Nino Durden, in one shooting of an unarmed man and has said there were at least two illegal shootings. Hoffman said internal investigators have identified at least five or six other police shootings that are questionable, the newspaper said.
Perez’s revelations have led to the removal of 13 officers from active duty. Two others have been fired.