LAPD Officers Falsely ID'ed Kids As Gangsters? That Can't Be Right
More than a dozen LAPD officers are under investigation after falsifying evidence and wrongly identifying people as gang members in South Los Angeles. Allegedly.
Last year, a woman who believed her son had been misidentified as a gang member went to a local precinct. The review of her son's case led officers to uncover massive corruption of the department's elite Metro Division. According to a statement from the LAPD:
The supervisor immediately reviewed the circumstances, including body worn video and other information, finding inaccuracies in the documentation completed by an officer.
The parent was notified that her son would not be identified as a gang member and any references to him as such were removed. Concurrently, the Department initiated a personnel investigation into the actions of three involved officers.
The subsequent investigation revealed that what happened to that woman's son was neither a mistake nor an isolated incident.
Over the course of several months, Internal Affairs investigators have continued their investigation resulting in identifying additional inaccuracies in documentation on field interview cards completed by those officers as well as others.
To date, all of the involved officers were assigned to Metropolitan Division crime suppression duties at the time the inaccurate documentation was completed.
The LAPD's internal investigation is ongoing. LAPD Chief of Police Michel Moore directed the LAPD's Office of Constitutional Policing and Policies "to inspect the work product of all Metropolitan Division crime suppression activities to ensure the accuracy of all documentation."
All of the officers who have been identified were a part of the LAPD's Metro Division in South LA, though none are currently on patrol. According to the LAPD, "Given the serious nature of the alleged misconduct, all involved officers have been assigned to inactive duty or removed from the field."
LA County prosecutors are already weighing whether or not to file charges against one of the officers, Braxton B. Shaw. LAPD sources told NBC4 that Shaw is being considered for criminal prosecution after "a review of his body-worn-video recordings showed events allegedly inconsistent with his written reports."
Insanely enough, being under criminal investigation is nothing new for Officer Shaw. In 2016, prosecutors declined to prosecute Shaw for perjury after he lied on the stand in a yet another situation where "Shaw's courtroom testimony conflicted with a recording from his patrol car's dashboard camera[.]"
So he sounds really trustworthy and definitely like someone who should have people's lives in his hands.
Even the response from the police union representing the involved officers was tempered.
The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents officers, said in a statement that it was "aware of reports of discrepancies contained on a limited number of field interview cards that the department is looking into." It also expressed confidence that Moore "will oversee a thorough and fair process to determine the facts and to also ensure that any impacted officer is accorded his or her due process rights."
Do you know how shitty cops have to be for the police union to not jump up to defend them? Or for other cops to investigate them at all?
Being falsely identified as a gang member can have drastic and immediate consequences. As attorney Sean Garcia-Leys told NBC4:
A false gang database entry could have an immediate effect on the citizen, according to Sean Garcia-Leys, a senior staff attorney with the Urban Peace Institute, which works on gang intervention issues.
"If an officer believes you are a documented gang member, the officer will treat you differently," he explained.
"You will be subject to more aggressive policing. And when you combine gang allegations with criminal charges, probation orders, or immigration proceedings, being labelled a gang member can get you arrested or deported," he said.
Unfortunately, this type of fuckery is nothing new for the LAPD.
Almost exactly a year ago, an LA Times investigation revealed that, surprise surprise, Metro Division officers disproportionately stopped black drivers. In a city that's 9% black, "Metro officers stop African American drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the city's population."
At the time, badass civil rights attorney Connie Rice called Metro's stops "really off the chain."
"This is stop-and-frisk in a car," she said, referring to the New York Police Department's controversial practice of patting down black and Latino pedestrians, which was sharply curtailed after a legal settlement.
"Do you want the trust of the poorest communities, that are the root of the  riots, or do you continue […] massive stop-policing that creates mistrust?" she added.
Someone remind me, are these supposed to be the "good guys with guns"?