Los Angeles Criminal Law Blog

Crooked Cops? LAPD Internal Affairs Fails to Adequately Investigate Its Own

Posted on: February 17, 2008 at 6:24 p.m.

Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorneys hear many stories from clients about officers being too aggressive, coercing consents to search, forcing Miranda statements, and even planting evidence. LAPD Internal Affairs is supposed to investigate all complaints of police misconduct. Some say that how can LAPD police and thoroughly investigate its own.

A recent report and finding by the Police Commission confirm this claim, concluding that Los Angeles Police Department investigators routinely fail to fully investigate citizens' complaints against allegedly abusive officers, often omitting or altering crucial information in ways that help exonerate the officers, according to a report to be released today. Further, the report raises questions about the department's ability to police itself, adding to still-unresolved problems highlighted in previous reports. The audit, which is expected to be presented to the civilian Police Commission today, examined how 60 complaints filed against officers in recent years were handled by the officers' supervisors and investigators in the department's internal affairs group. In 29 of the cases -- nearly half of the time -- it found some sort of flaw, including investigators who inaccurately recorded statements and failed to interview witnesses or identify accused officers. In some cases, investigators failed to address allegations of misconduct at all. "

In several of the cases reviewed, the report concluded that the investigators' conclusion that the accusations against officers were "unfounded" would have been different if the investigations had been handled better. In one complaint about excessive force, a witness said in a tape-recorded interview shortly after the incident that there had been too many officers surrounding the man to get a good view of what happened. But in their report, the internal affairs officers paraphrased the witness' comments much differently, writing that the man "had a clear and unobstructed view and did not see or hear the alleged acts occur." Problems with paraphrasing in this case and several others, the report found, were the reason the officers were ultimately absolved of any wrongdoing.

In another case, two men said they were injured -- one suffered a broken or badly sprained elbow -- by a group of officers using excessive force while trying to break up a party. The report faulted investigators for failing to interview two witnesses or retrieve any of the documents on file about the incident. Investigators failed to identify any of the officers involved in the altercation and did not include any photographs of the injuries the accusers sustained -- a basic component of an excessive-force complaint.

Better training may be required. Police officers who become members of internal affairs receive only a five-day training course on how to conduct investigations. Complaints are usually filed with a sergeant at a local police station who conducts interviews and passes the claim to internal affairs. Internal affairs handles the more serious cases -- several thousand each year.

Los Angeles Criminal Lawyers are able to obtain a police officer's record of prior misconduct through two sources: (1) The District Attorney's Brady Unit, set up after the Rampart scandal; and (2) Los Angeles City Attorney's Office, which represent LAPD in court, after litigating a Pitchess Motion before trial. Both of these procedures are utilized soley within the criminal justice system. L.A. criminal settlement and defense issues are greatly affected when it turns out that one of the investigating officers has a history of misconduct.

Tagged as: california criminal laws


LJ on November 6, 2010 at 7:37 p.m. wrote:

A female friend of mine has been kidnapped,beaten,had her car stolen and vandelized by a possible informant who was arrested and released from custody.He than did a home invasion and beat her again and Sylmar Police said they can't do anything without proof.What kinda law inforcement is that?

kevin on April 5, 2010 at 7:24 p.m. wrote:

i was kidnapped by lapd and still get hasseled by dirty cops now i know a judge also

ms need justice on March 21, 2010 at 1:28 a.m. wrote:

san bernardino county court system has been wrongly convicting people for years and its sad and its time for some justice,also west valley detention center is so corrupt,internal affairs in this county is no help,my love one was shot and taken out of icu with a bullet in his head still,and 2 in his abdomen nothing has been done need advice or an attorney who isnt scared to win this case or fight for justice.

Matthew Britt on July 6, 2009 at 1:39 p.m. wrote:

and with the case they said i was resisting then they say i was obstructing a police officer which is bullshit...someone give some insight on what i should do...thanks

Matthew Britt on July 6, 2009 at 1:33 p.m. wrote:

Yeah hey i have a big problem...these cops mased me and punched me in my face and diviated my septum in my nose...the file they say is now gone and they have a bullshit report...i have been doing this case for 6 months now...and i haven't gone to trial yet they keep pushing the case back...i need someones help im tired of this shit...i have a good case that i think is brutality...hit me back up thanks matt

Cherise on April 10, 2009 at 4:55 p.m. wrote:

Yeah I have to agree that LAPD's Internal Affairs does inaccurately record statements, even with their employees, if they are civilian. I was a civilian employee w/ LAPD discharged behind lies from the LA Sheriffs, Inglewood PD, and IA's inability to paint an accurate picture. My story can be read at http://batteredbypd.wordpress.com This is still an ongoing situation that I am fighting!!

Kelsey Kernstine on May 29, 2008 at 4:01 p.m. wrote:

I think that officer

Rachel Enz on May 13, 2008 at 9:40 p.m. wrote:

When the LAPD Internal affairs do not perform its function by letting misconduct go without punishment then police officers

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