three LAPD Officers Accused of Falsely Labeling Individuals as Gang Members Now Face Costs – NBC Los Angeles

0
13
Three LAPD Officers Charged in Falsified Data Case – NBC Los Angeles

The Los Angeles District Attorney's Office filed dozens of crimes against three LAPD officers suspected of wrongly classing innocent drivers and pedestrians who arrested them as gang members.

Braxton Shaw, Michael Coblentz and Nicholas Martinez were informed on Thursday that, according to several law enforcement agencies, they should surrender to court early Friday.

Shaw and Coblentz were assigned to the Metropolitan Division according to the LAPD. Martinez worked in the 77th Street Division.

The LAPD should make a statement on the case, but said it had no immediate comment.

According to a criminal complaint with 59 charges, the three were charged with conspiracy, submitting false reports, and preparing fraudulent documents for the court. It was not immediately clear how many of the charges were brought against each officer.

The NBC4 I team first reported in January that more than a dozen LAPD officers were investigated for allegedly submitting field interview reports in which people they interviewed were incorrectly classified as gang members. This data was later added to a nationwide law enforcement database containing information on gang information, "Cal-Gangs."

Chief Michel Moore ordered officials to stop using the system last month and was expected to announce departmental restructuring that included changes to the metro department and the size of its staff.

"Based on recent audits and ongoing complaint investigations, the accuracy of the database has been questioned," Moore wrote in an NBC 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.

The LAPD was also expected to announce organizational changes Friday after investigations into incorrect entry and complaints from community groups and activists, according to Metropolitan Division officials during the crime-fighting patrols in South LA, showed a disproportionate number of black and Hispanic drivers had run over.

Law enforcement sources said these changes could include removing large groups of officers, known as trains, from the Metro division and reassigning them to neighborhood police stations or other roles.

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."

At least 20 officers were examined by detectives from the LAPD's Internal Affairs Group, who checked whether handwritten field interview cards submitted after contact with the public matched recordings from body-worn video cameras, especially in cases where the cards were one The individual submitted was a member of a street gang.

Moore said while many of these video comparisons confirmed officials' reports, "… we also identified inaccuracies" that contradicted the physical evidence.

To date, only one official suspected of investigating bogus data has been publicly identified. A criminal case against officer Braxton Shaw was filed with the prosecutor in early 2020, and Chief Moore confirmed that the same officer would be sent to an internal administrative process known as the Board of Rights.

Shaw was examined in 2016 after his testimony in court appeared to contradict a video recording of a camera mounted in a patrol car. In this case, no charges were brought.

Shaw and some of the other officers investigated were assigned to the "C-Platoon" of the LAPD Metro Department. The unit expanded rapidly in 2015 and was deployed frequently to conduct street patrols in areas of southern Los Angeles where crime spikes had occurred.

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.

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here