Extra LAPD Officers Face Potential Legal Prices in False Gang Information Investigation – NBC Los Angeles

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More LAPD Officers Face Potential Criminal Charges in False Gang Data Investigation – NBC Los Angeles

Sixteen other LAPD officers could be prosecuted for investigating fake interview reports that identified some innocent drivers and pedestrians questioned by the police as gang members, according to a LAPD memo.

The memo confirms that the total number of officers investigated in the case is now 24, including 3 who were indicted last week, 16 others who may be subject to future criminal charges, and 5 others who are suspected of being against the department's guidelines to violate, but not to violate the law.

NBC4's I team first reported in January that numerous officials from the LAPD's Metropolitan Division were suspected of having invented information about people they had been on during anti-crime patrols, possibly to erroneously improve officials' daily productivity statistics.

Last Thursday, the LA District Attorney's Office filed a lawsuit against three of the officers – Braxton Shaw, Michael Coblentz and Nicolas Martinez. The case accuses her of conspiring to submit false police reports and fabricating documents for the court.

The DA office did not immediately respond to a request for information as to whether or not it had examined evidence in the 16 other cases.

Officials Shaw, Coblentz and Martinez were jailed on Friday and released without bond. They were instructed to appear in court for the first time in October.

The lawsuit also accuses Shaw of submitting gait data about fictitious people. The information was provided by officers on "field interrogation" or "FI" cards that were given at the end of a shift. Entries on the cards were later added to the nationwide law enforcement database called "Cal-Gangs".

"Public trust is the foundation of the local police, and these allegations shake this foundation," chief Michel Moore said in a statement after the charges were released. Last month, Moore ordered officers to stop adding names or information to the system.

"Due to the most recent audits and ongoing complaint investigations, the accuracy of the database has been questioned," Moore wrote in another internal memo.

"To strengthen community trust and avoid negative effects on individuals, especially in color communities, the department has put in place a complete moratorium on using the CalGang system," wrote Moore.

CalGangs is administered by the California Department of Justice and the Office of the California Attorney General. Attorney General Xavier Becerra announced in February that his office would begin "independently reviewing" LAPD submissions to the database, saying that LAPD could potentially lose access to the system if widespread problems were found.

"If we learn more, we may have to do more," Becerra said in February. "We can and will take additional steps approved under AB-90, including blocking or revoking LAPD's access to the Cal Gangs database."

AB-90 was the bill Becerra used to oversee the system in the office. The state is also in the process of revising the criteria and restricting when a person's profile can be added to the database.

"This kind of behavior is reprehensible and undermines the courageous work of our officials to protect Angelenos every day," said Mayor Eric Garcetti in a statement on Friday.

The LAPD was also expected to make organizational changes to the Metropolitan Division as part of a major departmental restructuring, including the reassignment of dozens of officers from the Metro to patrol services at neighborhood police stations.

An internal memo to the officials of the Metro Division, which was received by the NBC4 I-Team, said on Thursday, July 9th: "At this time, it is only a matter of speculation by everyone."

Captain LeLand Sands told officials in the memo, "I want you to know that no decisions have been made for Metro's future."

Other records obtained from the I-Team show that Shaw was investigated by LAPD internal affairs in 2016 after his testimony in court appeared to contradict a video recording of a camera mounted in a patrol car. The LA District Attorney's Office decided not to file a criminal complaint.

The Metro department was expanded rapidly in 2015 due to an increase in violent crime. The officers were frequently sent to areas where crime peaks occurred to conduct crime-fighting patrols. Subway officials do not respond to routine radio calls and can instead focus their time on observation stops and arrests.

Several law enforcement officers informed NBCLA's I team that Metro Division officials had been pressured by their commanders to show that their patrols were productive.

Officials compiled daily statistics on the number of people who stopped and interviewed them, the number of contacts with gang members, the number of arrests, and other metrics. Each day's statistics were collected for analysis by LAPD executives and, according to sources, officials were told, "The more gang contacts the better."

Chief Moore and other LAPD officials have denied the pressure to produce certain statistics, and Moore said the motive for submitting the alleged false reports was not clear.

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