Features

Jury request to hear four testimonies in L.A. police trial

The Associated Press
Tuesday November 14, 2000

LOS ANGELES — The jury deliberating corruption charges against four Los Angeles police officers asked Monday to hear a repeat of testimony from four witnesses to a gang raid that is crucial to the case. 

The seven women and five men sent a note to the judge asking for a reading of testimony from two defendants, Sgts. Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy, and from two police witnesses who gave accounts of what happened on the night of April 26, 1996, when officers confronted a group of gang members in a parking lot. 

Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor ordered the testimony read to the panel. 

Jurors concluded their second full day of deliberations and retired for the evening without reaching verdicts.  

Since they received the case Wednesday, they have spent 11 hours in talks and were to resume Tuesday morning. 

The judge also said she did not know of the jury reaching any partial verdicts Thursday. Sources told The Associated Press on Friday that partial verdicts were reached and placed under seal after the jury’s first day of deliberations.  

The sources stood by their accounts Monday. 

The jurors specified in their request to rehear testimony that they wanted to know whether Ortiz saw a police helicopter arrive on the scene and asked to hear an account by helicopter crew member Glen Marczinko, who watched the confrontation from above. 

They also asked to hear Liddy’s description of seeing a gang member duck behind a car, arise with his hands in the air and shout, “Don’t shoot! I ain’t got no gun.” 

Prosecutors claim the statement was never uttered and the suspect, Allan Lobos, never discarded a gun. They say the gun was planted by police officers. 

The jurors also requested all the pivotal testimony of Officer Ray Mejia, who said he found the gun hidden in the wheelwell of a car in the parking lot. But his memory was uncertain about what he did after spotting the gun. 

“I couldn’t be exact whether I picked it up or notified somebody to pick up the gun,” Mejia testified. 

He could not remember the type of the gun or whether it was loaded and he said he never heard anyone say, “Don’t shoot! I ain’t got no gun.” 

Jurors, who were permitted to submit written questions during the trial, had sent inquiries while Mejia was on the stand, asking whether he picked up the gun. He could not remember. 

Liddy and Ortiz are on trial along with Officers Paul Harper and Michael Buchanan, charged with conspiracy, perjury and writing false reports to frame gang members for crimes they didn’t commit. 

The ex-officer who triggered the corruption scandal continued to make news. Rafael Perez, a cocaine thief who alleged misconduct in the Rampart station’s anti-gang unit, was slightly injured Sunday in a fight with other jail inmates over what TV program to watch.