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Rafael Perez
The Role Of Gun Planting In Los Angeles Justice


"I mean, it's just
common practice."
— Rafael Perez


Judicial involvement note added 25-Jan-2003:
The following three excerpts are from Gubler v Commission on Judicial Performance 37 Cal3d 27, 207 CalRptr 171, 688 P2d 551 (1984).  References to the "petitioner" are to Marion E. Gubler, Judge of the Municipal Court for the Burbank Judicial District of Los Angeles County.  Although the case report gives no indication that Gubler was feeding law-enforcement officers guns to be used in planting, the nevertheless disturbing picture is painted of a black market in firearms in which law enforcement officers and at least one Los Angeles judge have been caught participating.  Our picture would be more complete if three pieces of information had been supplied: (1) what did the law-enforcement officers who purchased the firearms illegally intend to do with them, (2) were permanent records of the sales kept, and did they include serial numbers, which would have made the guns traceable back to the court, and therefore unsuitable for planting, and (3) was investigation thorough enough to rule out the possibility that the judge, along with his bailiff and close personal friend, made money on the illegal sales?

Other charges arise out of petitioner's orders authorizing private sales of guns to peace officers by defendants whose convictions had subjected the guns to confiscation, destruction, or public auction by the police department.  (37 Cal3d 27 at 34)
On four occasions between April 1979 and August 1980, petitioner ordered the Burbank Police Department to release to the purchaser a revolver, pistol, or rifle (gun) that had been purchased from an owner after having been confiscated in connection with the owner's criminal conviction (or, in one case, conviction of the owner's son).  Petitioner did not know the details of the negotiations for the sales and participated in the transactions only by signing the orders releasing the guns to the purchaser.  Two of the guns were purchased by Gordon Mangel, petitioner's courtroom bailiff and close personal friend.  The other two sales were negotiated by Mangel, one to a deputy sheriff and the other to a Burbank police officer, both of whose duties brought them to petitioner's courtroom from time to time.  None of the purchasers was a licensed firearms dealer.  The court file in each case contains not only the order of release but also the bill of sale.  (37 Cal3d 27 at 55)
The commission concluded that petitioner's approval of the gun sales was wilful misconduct.  Certainly he knew or reasonably should have known that the sales themselves were illegal under sections 12028 and 12030 and that the circumstances of the sales, particularly the participation of the bailiff, created at least the appearance of impropriety under canon 2(B).  (37 Cal3d 27 at 59)


Judicial involvement note added 27-Jan-2003:
The following excerpt suggests that some evidence of police homicides and frame-ups never made it into Rampart Scandal testimony, and that at least Judge James A. Bascue (currently the Presiding Judge of the Los Angeles Superior Court), and his wife, Judge Jacqueline A. Connor, were biased in favor of a police cover-up:

The prosecution suffered another setback just days before the trial was set to open, losing its star witness when Rafael Perez was accused by a former girlfriend of having committed several murders.  Through his attorney, Perez said that if pressed in court he would invoke the Fifth Amendment rather than answer questions about the alleged slayings.  That would in turn compromise the right of the defense to cross-examine a prosecution witness; legal experts say the judge then would be required to either strike Perez’s testimony or declare a mistrial.

Last week, prosecutors lost a second key witness when Greg Yates, attorney for gang member Alan Lobos, said his client would also invoke the Fifth Amendment rather than answer questions on yet another homicide.  Lobos contends that he was framed by the CRASH unit, but in their opening statement, defense attorneys said he invented the story to obscure his connection to a gang shooting.

For all the problems prosecutors say they’ve had collecting evidence and presenting witnesses, Superior Court Judge Jacqueline A. Connor has afforded them little sympathy.  Connor refused to permit the presentation of five witnesses to one of the alleged frame-ups, asserting that they were introduced too close to the trial date.  She’s consistently upheld defense objections and ruled against the prosecution.

Here again, the prosecution may have run into a case of institutional bias.  Connor is a former prosecutor herself with a reputation for meting out tough sentences to gang members, and her husband, James Bascue, also a Superior Court judge, worked closely with LAPD CRASH as head of the D.A.’s hardcore gang unit.
Charles Rappleye, Another Fine Mess: Rampart scandal staggers into court, LA Weekly, 27-Oct-2000 to 02-Nov-2000 www.laweekly.com/ink/00/49/news-rappleye.php



Lubomyr Prytulak
Ukrainian Archive, www.ukar.org
[Address]
[Telephone]
[Email]

17 December 2002


Gary Klausner, Judge
United States District Court
Roybal Federal Building
255 East Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA
USA     90012


Re:  Rambam v Prytulak   BC271433   James R. Dunn

Gary Klausner:

Continuing on with the question of what kind of court it takes to stage the Rambam v Prytulak show trial brings me to the case of Demitris McGee.

Demitris McGee

Demitris McGee being sentenced by Los Angeles Superior Court (LASC) Judge James R. Dunn to 27 years to life may at first glance seem justified by his third strike of handgun possession having been preceded by two earlier strikes of robbery:

Demitris  McGee
Type:   3rd Striker              Sentence:   27 years to life
For possession of a handgun
Type: Date: Strike(s):
Current 01-Jan-1996 Possession of Weapon
Prior 01-Mar-1985 Robbery — 2nd Degree
Prior 01-Oct-1989 Robbery — 2nd Degree
Current Strike Information:
County: Los Angeles
Courthouse: CCB (Downtown)
Department: 119
Official(s):
Judge: James R. Dunn
Dep. District: M. Kraut
Case Number: BA126577
Gender: Male
Birth date: 02-Jun-1966
Race ethnicity: Black
Physically disabled: N/A
Mentally disabled: N/A
History of suffering from substance abuse: N/A
Marital status: N/A
No. of Children: 1
Highest ed level: GED
Military service: N/A
Employed at time of current conviction: N/A
Paraphrased summary of comments made by prisoner and/or others:
Police officer's word against McGee.  No fingerprints on gun.  Believe officers charged and booked him for possession charge after finding out he was a 3rd strike candidate.  Robbery in 1985 when 18 years old was of a sports jacket and cap.  Robbery in 1989 was for $7 from a guy that he did drugs with.
Quotes:
"I feel the D.A. and Police Department has too much power with this law because they make cases against those who are able to be "struck out" with any felony.  Lawyers charge large sums of money for 3 strike cases...."
Prisoner believes he or she was wrongfully convicted:    Yes
Reason(s) for wrongful conviction, if applicable:
Perjury by police
Fabricated evidence
Misidentification by witness
Verification available/done on this story:
Response letter sent
Response letter received
Wrongful conviction letter received
Signed media info. sheet
People available to contact about story:
Nephew
Attorney — Appellate
Friend
Attorney
Mother

Based on Families to Amend California's Three Strikes (FACTS) www.facts1.com/stories2/web100_1Page115.html

The first two strikes — robberies

However, the impression that 27 to life may be a just reward begins to unravel when we discover in the Families to Amend California's Three Strikes (FACTS) information sheet above that neither strike amounted to a holdup of an armored car, or of a bank, or even of a liquor store, but apparently something quite a bit less which in the first instance netted Demitris McGee a sports jacket and a cap when he was 18 years old, and in the second instance netted him seven dollars from a fellow drug user four years later.  To what extent these two first strikes conform to images that are called up by the word "robbery" is not evident, as the Penal Code encompasses dissimilar events under the one rubric, ranging from events which involve the use of force against the victim, all the way to events in which the victim fears injury to the property of a relative.  Meeting the criteria for a robbery, then, does not require that force be employed, a weapon brandished, or a threat uttered — mere fear of harm to person or property on the part of the victim is sufficient, and it is hard to imagine any demand for a peremptory transfer of money or property which could avoid eliciting fear on the part of the victim:

California Penal Code 211.  Robbery is the felonious taking of personal property in the possession of another, from his person or immediate presence, and against his will, accomplished by means of force or fear.

212.  The fear mentioned in Section 211 may be either:
      1. The fear of an unlawful injury to the person or property of the person robbed, or of any relative of his or member of his family;
or,
      2. The fear of an immediate and unlawful injury to the person or property of anyone in the company of the person robbed at the time of the robbery.
California Penal Code at
www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/displaycode?section=pen&group=00001-01000&file=211-215

Thus, one may speculate that Demitris McGee could have stolen a sports jacket and cap by on the one hand holding a cocked gun to the head of a clothing retailer, or at the other extreme, merely by threatening to knock over a store mannequin — the latter possibly sufficing to induce the requisite "fear of an unlawful injury to the property of the person robbed" which might be all that was needed to justify categorization as a robbery.  One might even wonder whether a court might not view a shoplifter's resistance during apprehension by a retailer as satisfying the definition of a robbery, as the retailer would be well justified in fearing injury during such an apprehension.

Similarly, the second strike of taking seven dollars from his drug buddy could conceivably have been accomplished by anything from McGee dangling his buddy out the window with the offer to drop, to McGee dangling his buddy's kitchen radio out the window with the offer to drop.

The third strike — handgun possession

In evaluating Demitris McGee's third strike, the LAPD's habit of planting firearms (in one case a machine gun) on arrestees cannot be ignored.


Some Characteristics of LAPD Gun Planting

The LAPD perpetually scavenges for guns to plant

The Tech .22 rifle discussed below was the one planted on Javier Francisco OVANDO, whose case will be discussed in greater detail further below:

A   We can't — we were mostly looking for guns.  I need to back up a little bit.  Two, three, maybe four days before this O.P., Officer Durden and I came across a Tech .22 rifle — a machine gun rifle.  The weapon that was planted.  Where we got it exactly from, I didn't know.  We used to get, uh, you know — do a gang sweep and everybody runs.  And then there's a gun there.  And there's a gun.  We keep the gun.

Q   Why do you keep the gun?

A   Keep — and I'm going to say this.  And I have to say it.  That we kept it just to have it in case something like this were to occur, or something, you know — I — what exactly we kept it for I don't know.  Everybody was keeping — you know, kept one.  Everybody.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #1 from 10-Sep-1999  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/18b9c3c1201d07218525699e005583df?OpenDocument

Police officers might accumulate an assortment of guns ready for planting

Q BY SGT. COOK:   Could you describe the gun again?

A   Uhm, well, there was several.  Uhm, when he had showed me the guns, uh, he had in his car, he had probably four.  I'll say four or five guns.  Uhm, he had a couple of .45's.  That's why I wanted to see the reports.  He had a couple of handguns, like small caliber .25 or something like that.  Uh, I know he had at least — and — and I can't comment about this report here.  It was right around the same time.  But there is also a .45 involved.  So, I don't know if you guys still want to talk to this guy.  I can't comment on it, because I don't remember it.  Uhm, but, uhm, — uh, when I saw the guns —

Q BY MR. ROSENTHAL:   You're referring to the Octavio Espindola report?

A   Yes, sir. Uhm, I had saw a, uh, — a blue steel, uh, .45; a stainless steel .45; I believe it's a stainless steel, uh, small like, uhm, — like a Raven .25 auto or something small like that; and a couple other, uh, handguns.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #4 from 01-Oct-1999  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/4413cc3f06298cd68525699e0068867e?OpenDocument

Police distribute available guns to available arrestees

Guns found on location might be distributed on the spot to arrestees caught up in a sweep:

Q BY DET. NALYWAIKO:   What I'm hearing is that Hewitt pretty much was directing what was gonna happen at that location with any weapons that were found, as to who they were going to be put on, or planted on.  Who was in the discussion when it came down to having direct knowledge that these guns were being planted, or the information was being given out was false, about these guns?

A   I think pretty much everybody.

Q   Who would that be?

A   Uh, everybody that was at the scene.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #4 from 01-Oct-1999  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/4413cc3f06298cd68525699e0068867e?OpenDocument

Saving for later

A gun that for one reason or another was not planted on a nearby arrestee might be saved for planting on some future arrestee:

A   While we were there, there was another, uh, handgun recovered.  And if I remember correctly, it was a small chrome-type, maybe .25 or .22 auto, uh, handgun.  That gun was never booked.  The gun was kept by, uh, Officer Durden.  [...]

Q   Okay.  And do you know what Durden did with the .22 caliber?

A   It probably went on a suspect sometime later.  I don't know exactly when or where, but — I don't — uh, right off the top of my head, I couldn't tell you where it went.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #8 from 05-Nov-1999  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/cf6c45fec75238368525699e00688f33?OpenDocument

A found gun is a loaded gun

A   Uh, when we write it — when we wrote it, and we always — you won't ever find a report in C.R.A.S.H. that said that the gun was unloaded.  Even if you find a gun, they're gonna put bullets in it.  Uh, that's — you will never find a gun that was unloaded.  Uh, any arrest, any — I'm just telling you as honest as I can be.  He knows we're gonna say that it was loaded.  'Cause that's just the way we always write it.  And there's one in the chamber.  That's why you'll notice every report will say, "One round in the chamber.  And the magazine was loaded."  That's just the way that we're taught how to write them, you know.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #4 from 01-Oct-1999  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/4413cc3f06298cd68525699e0068867e?OpenDocument

Replica handguns may play some role

Concerned that Ferguson was engaged in possible criminal activity, LAPD investigators searched his locker and found a replica handgun that, in the opinion of one detective, was most likely possessed by Ferguson to be used as "planted evidence."
Matt Lait and Scott Glover, LAPD Pair Focus of Criminal Probe, 20-Dec-2001 www.geocities.com/CapitolHill/Parliament/2398/police_misconduct.html

Where a gun is unavailable for planting, whatever alternative weapon is at hand will do

Were it a question of prosecuting arrestee Joseph Britton for knife possession, then the police moving the knife from where the arrestee dropped it to where he was apprehended may seem like a matter of lesser importance, but as the question is whether or not the police were justified in shooting Joseph Britton six times, then moving the knife to the shot Joseph Britton also moves the blame from the police to Joseph Britton:

The only allegation [...] of Fuhrman or his partners planting anything on a black man arose out of a April 7, 1987, incident in West Los Angeles.  One Joseph Britton and a confederate were fleeing the scene of an ATM robbery when Fuhrman and three other officers pursued Britton, who claims he discarded a knife he was carrying before he was found hiding behind a concrete fence.  Britton says one of the officers said, "You stupid nigger, why did you run?" and proceeded to shoot him six times.  He sued Fuhrman and his partners for police brutality, and claimed they planted the knife at his feet to justify the shooting.  The first trial resulted in a hung jury (8-4 for the defendant police officers), and before the retrial set for late 1994, the City of Los Angeles settled with Britton for $100,000.
Vincent Bugliosi, Outrage: The five reasons why O.J. Simpson got away with murder, Island Books, New York, 1996, p. 452.

Twisting the arrestee's arm to claim ownership of planted material

Although the case of Joseph Jones below involves the planting not of a gun but of drugs, it serves to demonstrate what inexorable pressure the LAPD is sometimes able to apply to arrestees to plead guilty to possessing whatever the LAPD chooses to plant on them:

Jones was accused by Perez and Durden of being the middleman in their undercover purchase of $20 worth of rock cocaine in the hallway of a residential hotel.  Perez now says that Jones actually refused to sell them the cocaine.

Jones was in a tough spot.  Because he had been convicted of roughing up and robbing 2 pedestrians at knifepoint in 1992, the district attorney's office could have prosecuted him for a third strike.  Conviction would have resulted in a life term.  When prosecutors offered instead to let him plead guilty to a second strike, he took the deal.  "All right, this is No. 27," said Superior Court Judge John Reid, a former prosecutor, referring to Jones' place on the calendar.  "You're Joseph Jones?"  "Yes, sir."  No. 27 went along with the program and accepted an 8 year sentence for a crime Perez now says he did not commit.
Ted Rohrlich, Scandal shows why innocent plead guilty, Los Angeles Times, 31-Dec-1999 www.nettrash.com/users/socialjustice/fastplea.html

The LAPD may fall back on making the arrestee do the looking

MR. ROSENTHAL:   And Joseph Tenorio was the one where you watched the videotape of the 14-year old kid who alleged that he'd been beaten by you and Hewitt.  [...]

MR. SEGURA:   He's in — on — on the balcony, second story of, uh — of this apartment building.  The next thing he knows, three, uh, Rampart C.R.A.S.H. officers show up.  Uh, Brian Hewitt, yourself, and he's not sure who the other, uh, officer is.  Uhm, — uh, he's detained.  He's handcuffed.  Uh, Hewitt starts asking him about a gun.  He wants a gun.  Uh, this kid says he doesn't know, uh, — uh, where he can get a gun, uh, at the time.  Uh, the kid says that he's handcuffed to a railing of the, uh — of the apartment building there, as the officers are going by — all three he says.  Both you, Hewitt, and this third officer, who he doesn't identify.  He doesn't know who the third officer is.  Is kicking him as, uh — as the officers are — you guys are going by.  He says that, uh, Brian Hewitt draws a circle on a wall — hallway of the second floor of this apartment building.  He tells, uh, Tenorio, "You don't give me a gun, and your head's gonna go through the target.  We're gonna play target practice, uh, with, uh — with your head."  Uh, the kid still is saying, "I don't know where I can get you a gun right now.  I don't know about a gun."  The kid says that Hewitt and you picked him up, uhm, by one arm each, and started putting his head through, uh — through the wall.  He says his head goes through the, uh — the plaster.  Uh, it goes through the wall about — about five times.  Uhm, — uh, Hewitt starts asking him again, uh, "Tell me about a gun.  Tell me about a gun."  Uh, he doesn't, uh, give any information again.  And the wall, boom.  His head goes through the wall a couple of — a couple more times.

MR. MCKESSON:   When you say "through the wall" you mean striking the wall or actually —

Q BY MR. SEGURA:   Striking.  Striking the wall.  To what degree, Ray, where he says the plaster breaks.  He says he has, uhm, wood splinters in his hair from, uh, — from the 2x4's, you know, there, uh — there — there in the wall.  Uhm, and then, I don't think he's, uh, — he's arrested — uh, he's arrest at the time.  I'm not sure now how the, uh — how the incident ends after that.  But that's the excessive force that this, uh, kid is — is talking about.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #12 from 14-Dec-1999  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/15114360ccb939608525699e006892fc?OpenDocument


Some Victims of LAPD Gun Planting

Substantiation that the LAPD commonly plants firearms on arrestees is found in the following sampling of cases (sorted alphabetically by surname):

Samuel BAILEY

The sheer power of his lies, which would presumably have gone undetected if he had not admitted them, can be seen in the case of Samuel Bailey, whom Perez now says he framed for the crime of being an ex-felon with a gun.  Bailey was a gang member in his early 30s who had been in trouble most of his adult life.  He encountered Perez outside a gang party that Perez and other Rampart anti-gang officers were raiding.  Perez claimed on the witness stand at Bailey's preliminary hearing that he saw Bailey when he pulled up to the party and recognized him as a gang member on parole.  He said that he noticed Bailey had his right hand in his waistband.  He said he told Bailey to put his hands up.  Bailey, he said, instead pulled a handgun from his waistband and dropped it.  Bailey just listened at the defense table as Perez perjured himself about the gun.  Then the judge asked Perez how he had known that Bailey was a gang member.

"I have interviewed him 15, 20 times," began Perez.  "I have...."  It was too much for Bailey.  He erupted in profanity and called Perez a liar.  "You're a lying — , you know that?  Sorry, Your Honor."  The judge quickly reminded him where he stood.  "Let me explain something," he said.  "You have a right to speak only to your lawyer, and very quietly, and if you do that again, there will be a gag in your mouth."  Bailey seemed to get it.  He pleaded guilty soon afterward to possessing the gun that Perez now says he planted on him in return for a sentence of 2 years 8 months in prison.
Ted Rohrlich, Scandal shows why innocent plead guilty, Los Angeles Times, 31-Dec-1999 www.nettrash.com/users/socialjustice/fastplea.html

Leo ESTRADA

A   When Mr. Estrada shows up, —

Q   Uh-huh.

A   — he's detained.

Q   He's detained. Does he have any narcotics on him?

A   No.

Q   Does he have any guns on him?

A   No.

Q   How does that come about?

A   There is a gun recovered [from a car, and that gun later planted on Leo Estrada].  The gun that was put on him — I think, on the report, we said that he was carrying a gun in his waistband or something.  [...]

Q   Okay.  And in regards to, uh, Stepp and Veloz, you said they were present at the Waterloo address?

A   Yes, sir.

Q   Did they have knowledge about this gun issue with —

A   Both of the — I'm sorry.  Both the gun and the narcotics being planted on him.  Yes, they were aware of it.

Q   Okay.  How did they have knowledge of that?  Was it discussed?  Or was it something that they read the report later?

A   They actually greeted Mr. Estrada at the door.  They were the ones that actually greeted him in.  They were the ones that patted him down.  We knew that he had nothing on him.  Anything that we talked about afterwards was — they were well — they were well aware those things were planted.  [...]

A   But you don't go, "Oh, Perez recovered this gun.  And he gave it to me.  And we're gonna plant on this guy."  That's not the way it works.
      And I don't want to say it's on a need to know basis.  But it's sort of like why go telling everybody in the world, when it's not that important, you know.  Uh, Durden, or let's say Tovar, who is my partner, sees me recovering a gun.  He sees me giving it to Liddy.  We didn't see anybody put it there.  But somebody's going to jail for it.  We know what happened.  We — we know.  I mean, it's just common practice.  We've done it this — it's been done so many times that we just know.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #16 from 27-Jan-2000  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/f139459518120a4c8525699e00688e4a?OpenDocument

Frank HARRIS

According to police reports, Officer William Ferguson fired shots at 14-year-old Frank Harris but missed him.

Witnesses in the house that night said Harris was unarmed and that police planted a gun in a bedroom, claiming it was his.
LA pays $1.7 million to settle 1999 police shooting lawsuit, San Francisco Chronicle, 28-Nov-2001 www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/news/archive/2001/11/28/state0254EST0282.DTL

Miguel HERNANDEZ

Hernandez had been standing in the mouth of an alley when Perez and his partner, Officer Nino Durden, drove by.  Perez's partner claimed he locked eyes with him and Hernandez responded by pulling a gun from his waistband and dropping it.  Perez now says Hernandez did not have a gun; it was a plant.  But Hernandez, who had a long record, took a deal at his very first Superior Court appearance, pleading guilty in return for a 16-month term.
Ted Rohrlich, Scandal shows why innocent plead guilty, Los Angeles Times, 31-Dec-1999 www.nettrash.com/users/socialjustice/fastplea.html

Alan (Allan) LOBOS

Lobos was charged with felony weapon possession and later pleaded guilty.  But his conviction was overturned after former officer Rafael Perez, who was present during the arrest, told authorities a gun was planted on Lobos.  [...]  Perez has told investigators that the officers in the unit routinely planted evidence, framed and even shot innocent people.
Defense in Los Angeles police corruption trial to finish Friday, CNN.COM, 03-Nov-2000 www.cnn.com/2000/LAW/11/03/lapd.trial

Prosecutors claim when Lobos and other gang members were taken to the police station, the officers planted the gun on him by rubbing it on his hands while he was handcuffed.

Ingalls asked Sanchez, who was also arrested that night, "Did you see officers bring out a gun at the station?"

"Yes," he said. "An officer came and grabbed Lobos' hand and put his finger in the trigger."
Testimony in LAPD corruption trial centers on alleged gun planting, CNN.COM, 25-Oct-2000 www.cnn.com/2000/LAW/10/25/lapd.trial

Jose MADRID

In the second incident, Durden and Perez responded to a May 25, 1997 radio call about a man with a gun.  After arriving at the location, a hotel at the corner of 8th and Alvarado Streets, the police officers confronted two individuals, one of whom was arrested even though he did not have a gun in his possession.  Based on their reports and Perez's testimony at a preliminary hearing, that man, Jose Madrid, pleaded guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.
Alejandro N. Mayorkas, United States Attorney Central District of California, Former L.A.P.D. officer Nino Durden charged with violating civil rights of three people: Former Rampart Division Officer to plead guilty, 30-Mar-2001 www.usdoj.gov/usao/cac/pr2001/060.html

Rene MATIONG

Here's one that could be similar to the Demitris McGee case in that it involves a gun planting on an arrestee already carrying two strikes or "priors":

Q   Uh, it looks like this would have been a report that you wrote.  It's a — charged on March 21st of 1998.  The crime being Possession of a Firearm by a Felon, with two priors.  Uh, what is the problem with this case?

A   It's really hard for me to remember this one, particularly, real well, as to the involvement of the other officer.  Uh, on this case, it states that I recovered a handgun from Officer — or Mr. Rene Mationg.

Q   You need to speak up.

A   A small caliber handgun. I believe it says it was a, uh, .25, uh, caliber semi-auto with wood grips.  [...]

THE WITNESS:   That gun was planted on Mr. Rene Mationg by me.

Q BY MR. ROSENTHAL:   And how do you remember that?

A   Because I was — I was there. I mean, I was — uhm, I remember the incident.  What I'm trying to remember is how much knowledge Mr. Arujo — or Officer Arujo had.  Officer Arujo knew.  Officer Arujo knew that Mr. Mationg did not have a gun.  He knew that when we detained him and we placed him in handcuffs and put him in the car, he said, "What is he going for?"  And I know I — I told him, "He's going for a gun."  And that's where we left it at.  And I think he remember me going into my trunk and recovering a handgun.  [...]

Q   Uh, where did you get the gun from?

A   That's what I was trying to remember.

Q   And if you can back up while you're thinking about that, who knew that you had that gun?

A   If I remember correctly, — and I don't — I'm not real clear on it, I recovered that gun somewhere before that.  I don't know if we, you know, chased some suspects through an apartment building, or — or what.  But I know I had it.  And I wasn't working with Durden.  I had it.  And it was in my bag.  I don't remember where I recovered it from, though.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #4 from 01-Oct-1999  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/4413cc3f06298cd68525699e0068867e?OpenDocument

Kenny MOORE

In 1992 patrol officers in a south central Los Angeles police division near the University of Southern California shot 15-year-old Kenny Moore, an aspiring high school cartoonist.  The youth was riding a stolen car that he found abandoned in the street.  When police attempted to pull Moore over, he jumped out of the car and ran.  First one officer and then four others in three patrol cars opened fire, later claiming Moore had pointed a gun at them from a shooting position.

The officers then planted a gun at the scene by Moore's body, a gun found to be inoperable because the trigger guard had been hammered in.  At a subsequent civil trial a firearms expert who had been range master at the sheriff's department in a neighboring county testified that in his opinion the gun likely had been decommissioned by the LAPD range master, and a civilian witness claimed she had seen a plainclothes detective take the gun out of the trunk of his car and place it next to the dying youth.
Don Knowland and Gerardo Nebbia, The Los Angeles police scandal and its social roots Part 2 of a series, World Socialist Web Site, 14-Mar-2000 www.wsws.org/articles/2000/mar2000/lapd-m14.html

Javier Francisco OVANDO

Durden and Perez have both now admitted to the most notorious of the allegations to emerge from the Rampart scandal — the Oct. 12, 1996, shooting that left Javier Francisco Ovando paraplegic.

Ovando was unarmed, but the officers planted a sawed-off rifle next to him and testified against him at trial, claiming he burst into an apartment where they were conducting surveillance holding the gun.

Ovando was convicted of assault and sentenced to 23 years in state prison.  He was released after three years and received a $15 million settlement from the city.
California North County Times, 03-Apr-2001 www.nctimes.net/news/2001/20010403/wwww.html

Officer Perez admitted to shooting and framing Javier Ovando and that the assault rifle planted on Ovando was stolen from some alleged "gang members" by police the week before.  Perez and his CRASH partner, Nino Durden, both lied in court.  Javier Ovando has now been released from prison.  But he spent three years behind bars, paralyzed, in a wheelchair — for nothing.

The police department has even admitted that the shooting of Javier Ovando and other shootings were not simply the acts of "out-of-control" cops.  An LAPD lieutenant admitted that a sergeant at Rampart Division was "quarterbacking the whole thing," training the cops to fake such crime scenes.  And other cops were involved in the cover-up.  For example a detective at Rampart Division had the stolen gun that was planted on Ovando destroyed so that it couldn't be traced back to the police.
Blue Rot: Crimes of the LAPD, Revolutionary Worker #1031,21-Nov-1999 rwor.org/a/v21/1030-039/1031/ramp.htm

Although [Deputy Public Defender Tamar] Toister had doubts about some aspects of the police account, she said she never envisioned the scenario that Perez now describes.  She could not imagine that, as Perez now says happened, police would have repeatedly shot an unarmed man and planted a machine gun on him to make him look like a would-be assassin.
Ted Rohrlich, Scandal shows why innocent plead guilty, Los Angeles Times, 31-Dec-1999 www.nettrash.com/users/socialjustice/fastplea.html

In sentencing Ovando to 23 years, Los Angeles Superior Court Judge J. Stephen Czuleger had viewed the paralyzed Ovando's lack of contrition as an aggravating factor:

Repeatedly shot by police, palsied, confined to a wheelchair, he was hard to imagine as a public safety threat.  But in hammering him, Judge Czuleger cited an aggravating factor — the defendant's attitude.  "Most apparently," he observed, "the defendant has no remorse."
Ted Rohrlich, Scandal shows why innocent plead guilty, Los Angeles Times, 31-Dec-1999 www.nettrash.com/users/socialjustice/fastplea.html

Oscar PERALTA (aka Jose Perez)

Oscar Peralta, now believed by the district attorney's office to have been another victim of the police scandal, took the People vs. West route, pleading to charges that he assaulted police with a gun.  His case, which featured aggressive defense representation, illustrates the willingness of some judges & prosecutors to vest police with extra credibility, despite independent evidence suggesting they may be lying.  Peralta was an 18th Street gang member.  He was shot by one of Perez's colleagues in the anti-gang unit in the Rampart Division, home of some of the city's most intense gang wars.  Then he was charged with an assault on police that purportedly led to his being shot.  Perez has since said that the shooting was "dirty," and prosecutors have said they believe Peralta was the victim of a police crime.  [...]

Likewise, the gun that police say was Peralta's, and that he allegedly pointed at Montoya, was also fully loaded, with a bullet in the chamber.  But it had not been fired either.  At the time, the district attorney's office did not seem to think this was odd.
Ted Rohrlich, Scandal shows why innocent plead guilty, Los Angeles Times, 31-Dec-1999 www.nettrash.com/users/socialjustice/fastplea.html

Juan SALDANA

Among the most chilling revelations concern outright police murders or attempted murders.  In 1996 CRASH officer Kulin Patel shot Juan Saldana when he was running down an apartment hallway.  Patel and his partner then planted a gun on Saldana after he went down.  When the CRASH supervisor, Sergeant Edward Ortiz, arrived, he delayed calling an ambulance so the officers could concoct a cover story.  Saldana bled to death by the time he arrived at the hospital.
Don Knowland and Gerardo Nebbia, The Los Angeles police scandal and its social roots, Part 1 of a series, World Socialist Web Site, 13-Mar-2000 www.wsws.org/articles/2000/mar2000/lapd-m13.html

Those skeptical of the official account would later note that the weapon that police say was Saldana's, and that he allegedly pointed at them at least three times while police fired at least 10 shots at him, was fully loaded, with a bullet in the chamber.  But it had not been fired.
Ted Rohrlich, Scandal shows why innocent plead guilty, Los Angeles Times, 31-Dec-1999 www.nettrash.com/users/socialjustice/fastplea.html

As a 21-year-old man shot by police lay bleeding to death in the hallway of a shabby Mid-City apartment building, Los Angeles Police Department officers intentionally delayed calling an ambulance while they planted a gun near where he had fallen and concocted an elaborate story to justify the shooting, according to disgraced former officer Rafael Perez.  [...]
In the Saldana shooting, Perez said, he was running down the hallway in an apartment building at 676 S. Shatto Place when he heard Officer Kulin Patel shoot.
     "Boom.  And it's a gang member....  He gets one right in the 10 ring," Perez said.
     "In the what?" asked the court reporter, who was transcribing the interview.
     "In the 10 ring.  I'm sorry.  It's a center mass.  Or right in the center of the chest," Perez said, alluding to the corresponding spot on a firing range target.
     Perez, who testified that he was just a few steps behind Patel when Patel fired, reached the victim in a matter of seconds.  "And I'm looking at the guy.  And I know there's no gun there.  There's — there's no gun."
     Just then, Perez said, fellow Rampart CRASH Officers Brian Hewitt and Doyle Stepp appeared at the bottom of the stairs, where Saldana had fallen.  The two officers had been chasing the gang member through the building after they and other CRASH officers received information that gang members were planning a retaliatory attack for a drive-by shooting that occurred the day before.
     Perez said the two officers looked down at the fatally wounded Saldana and one of them said, "Oh, shit....  We got him."

Gun Placed Near Victim

     He said the two officers ran back upstairs and returned within seconds, Stepp gingerly holding a gun with the tips of his fingers.  Perez told investigators the officer placed it on the first step next to Saldana.  At this point, Perez said, Saldana "seems perfectly fine.  He's talking.  He's like, 'Man, what's going on?' "
     But Perez said several minutes passed as the officers stood nearby and got their stories straight.  Saldana's condition steadily deteriorated, and he collapsed at the door of the apartment building.  He died a short time later at County-USC Medical Center.  An autopsy revealed that he had suffered two fatal gunshot wounds, one in the chest and one in the back.
Matt Lait and Scott Glover, Shooting Scenes Rigged, Perez Says Scandal: Police planted gun while victim bled to death, according to informant, Los Angeles Times, 10-Feb-2000 www.streetgangs.com/topics/rampart/021000perezshot.html

Umberto VASQUEZ

A   But, of course, in the report, we put that this particular officer saw him, you know, walking or running and tossed a gun — or had a gun in his waistband.  And that's a fabricated story.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #17 from 03-Feb-2000  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/227936e00c114d558525699e0068912d?OpenDocument

Carlos VERTIZ

In another incident CRASH officers fired 10 rounds at Carlos Vertiz, a 44-year-old man with no criminal record, after they mistook him for a drug dealer.  To justify the shooting, officers then planted a shotgun near the dying Vertiz which they claimed he had pointed at them.
Don Knowland and Gerardo Nebbia, The Los Angeles police scandal and its social roots, Part 1 of a series, World Socialist Web Site, 13-Mar-2000 www.wsws.org/articles/2000/mar2000/lapd-m13.html

Palomares belonged to a secret fraternity of officers and supervisors who awarded plaques for wounding and killing people; performance considered above and beyond the basic membership duties of robbing suspects of drugs and money.  Palomares is one of the two narcotics officers who broke into Carlos Vertiz's apartment and shot and killed him in May of 1998.  Vertiz, an unemployed house painter with no criminal record, was shot several times.
Police Corruption Guaranteed, The November Coalition www.november.org/razorwire/july-aug-sept2001/page24.html


Are the Wrong People in Jail?

It brings discredit upon any justice system when it becomes widely believed that justice would be served by some of the people not in jail swapping places with some of the people in jail.  Thus, Demitris McGee is in jail for 27 years to life under the three strikes law for three crimes, none of which is egregious or infamous, and the third of which is possibly police-fabricated.  In contrast, no LAPD officer has ever been sentenced under the three strikes law, even though LAPD officers have been guilty of egregious and infamous crimes, a few of which have been recounted above, or such as the following having to do with "bean bag" ammunition which fires a bag of metal pellets designed to knock down and incapacitate when fired at the body:

A   And they were laughing and — and talking to me about it how they had — they were doing a building search, uh, from a — a guy who had ran from Officer Liddy.  And while they were doing this building search, they had located the suspect.  And he was, uh, hidden in a closet up — you know, how there are shelves on a closet?  Well, he was sitting up like this in the upper portion shelf area of the closet.

And they were describing to me how they were searching and looking around.  And they looked in the closet and saw him.  And they sort of tapped each other.  And they said — and they backed up.  And they — they backed away from there to figure out what are they gonna do to get him out.  So, uh, Officer Durden was telling me how they went and got a bean bag shotgun.  Uh, and they decided that they were just gonna, you know, start shooting at him up while he was up there, with a bean bag.

Uh, so, Officer Durden was telling me how they — they went up and I believe Officer Lujan was, uh, carrying the shotgun.  They went in there and they pointed the shotgun right up at him.  And they shot him right in the face with the — with the bean bag — with the shotgun — with the shotgun that carries the bean bag round.

Uhm, and then he told me how they, uhm, — they just — the guy, when he was hit, didn't come down.  So, they just kept shooting at him.  Boom.  They just kept shooting at him with this — you know, the bean bag, uh, rounds, while he was in there.

Uh, and I remember one specific thing that — that, uh, — that, uh, Durden had told me was that when they went to go see him at the hospital, or something, the guy said, "Why didn't you guys just tell me to come down or something, man?  Why you have to shoot me in the face?"  And I remember Durden telling me that specifically that the guy told him that.  He said, "Why did you have to shoot me in the face?"  And I remember Durden also was carrying around some pictures of this guy, uh, his face, uh, you know, and his — his lip was being held up.  Uh, he was carrying some of these pictures and they were laughing about it, how they had shot this guy in the face with a — with a bean bag, and things like that.  [...]

Q BY MR. MCKESSON:   Can I ask a question?  Do they ask — do they state in there how he got the facial injuries?

A   I believe earlier in the report they describe that, uh, he climbed the fence and fell off the fence face first.  [...]

Q   Did Durden tell you, or explain why they had to shoot him as many times as they did?

A   It was just a — what it seemed like to me, when they were describing it, they were just having their way with the guy.  They were just having fun.
Statement of Rafael Antonio Perez, Rampart Scandal — The Perez Transcripts, Case BA109900, Transcript #5b from 11-Oct-1999  www.criminaljustice.org/public.nsf/c5ceb3971cdf79298525699e
00550af2/67fb9fa6bb7f4e928525699e00688bec?OpenDocument

It may be a safe guess that given a choice as to whether it is

  1. Demitris McGee — robber of sports jacket, cap, and seven dollars — who should be serving 27 to life, or

  2. the LAPD officers who had fun by repeatedly discharging at close range a shotgun loaded with bean bag ammunition into a fugitive's face, and after that had more fun parading and laughing at photographs of the damage they inflicted,

most people might agree that it is the LAPD officers who should be serving 27 years to life.


What Kind of Court Does it Take?

Although attention naturally focusses on the lowest-level, hands-on implementers of Los-Angeles-Justice gun planting — the LAPD — my letter to you of 24-Nov-2002, titled Relevance of Rampart Scandal to Rambam v Prytulak, showed how both prosecutors and judges are complicit, and how as the most powerful among the participants, it is the Los Angeles judges who bear the greatest responsibility.  Given the transparent untruth of some of the police testimony, Los Angeles judges may be suspected of being handicapped by a measure of both intellectual and moral shortfall to trust it as faithfully as they do.  Going beyond merely believing the LAPD, occasional glimpses are caught of judges acting prejudicially against innocent defendants being framed by the LAPD, as instanced in the conduct of LASC Judge J. Stephen Czuleger at the trial of Javier Francisco Ovando who was shot and paralyzed by the LAPD, and then had the LAPD plant a machine gun by his side, all of which was sufficient to persuade Czuleger to sentence Ovando to 23 years, as is recounted by Ted Rohrlich (Scandal shows why innocent plead guilty, Los Angeles Times, 31-Dec-1999 www.nettrash.com/users/socialjustice/fastplea.html).

Given also that most of the gun-planting revelations above originate from a single informant — Rafael Perez — who was coerced into a one-time confession, it may be supposed that without Rafael Perez, the crimes revealed would have remained hidden, and therefore that the Los Angeles Justice System has inadequate mechanisms of self-correction.  It may be supposed, further, that (a) Rafael Perez was not so destructive, either of himself or of his colleagues in the LAPD, as to reveal all of the justice-system crimes that he is aware of, and that (b) Rafael Perez is aware of only an infinitesimal proportion of them.

As for putting Demitris McGee behind bars for 27 years to life, this is an abomination, within the capacity only of a judge — like James R. Dunn — who is gifted with the power to blind himself to the obvious, in this case the obvious possibility that the McGee handgun was planted (just as in Rambam v Prytulak, he has blinded himself to his obvious lack of personal jurisdiction, blinded himself even to the awareness that his first examination of the question of personal jurisdiction is eight months overdue, and blinded himself finally to the awareness that his prejudicial treatment of Defendant Lubomyr Prytulak is every day casting further discredit both on himself and on the Los Angeles Superior Court).  Any observer more impartial than James R. Dunn will be forced to agree that the following five considerations taken together are more than sufficient to introduce a reasonable doubt of Demitris McGee's strike-three guilt:

  1. Demitris McGee denies having been in possession of a handgun, which is significant given the power that prosecutors have to extort false confessions by threatening to invoke the devastating three-strike law;

  2. only a single police officer testified to having found the handgun on McGee;

  3. the handgun did not have McGee's fingerprints on it;

  4. LAPD planting of guns is commonplace;

  5. McGee's conviction took place in the courtroom of discredited Judge James R. Dunn.
The question of what kind of court it takes to stage the Rambam v Prytulak show trial, then, advances another step toward being answered by the recognition that it is a court which thinks nothing of imprisoning individuals for decades on evidence that falls somewhere between disturbingly shaky and palpably trumped up.  It takes a court that has made itself so distrusted that a jury like that in the OJ Simpson trial prefers to view overpowering evidence of guilt as just further Los Angeles justice system machinations:

[P]oll after poll showed the majority of American blacks, including Simpson's jury, felt Simpson had been framed by the police because of his race.  A Los Angeles Times poll of blacks in Los Angeles County showed that an astonishing 75 percent of them believed Simpson was framed.
Vincent Bugliosi, Outrage: The Five Reasons Why O.J. Simpson Got Away With Murder, Island Books, New York, 1996, pp. 73-74.

Relevant to you is the thesis that the Los Angeles Superior Court is so sullied that no judge who has acted in a supervisory capacity in it can be trusted to have clean hands, or can be permitted to advance to a more influential role in the life of the nation.




Lubomyr Prytulak


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