LAPD officers sue officials over criminal allegations

The Associated Press
Saturday November 17, 2001

LOS ANGELES — Three police officers who were arrested during a corruption scandal filed a lawsuit against their employer and the district attorney’s office, claiming their reputations were destroyed and they were publicly humiliated. 

The officers, who faced criminal corruption charges, allege they were falsely arrested, maliciously prosecuted and treated like “common criminals,” said their attorney Etan Z. Lorant. 

“This ordeal has been devastating for them,” Lorant said. 

Officer Paul Harper and Sgts. Brian Liddy and Edward Ortiz were accused of framing a gang member who allegedly placed a gun in the wheel well of a car. The officers arrested Allan Lobos in April 1996 for investigation of possession of a handgun. He later pleaded guilty and served a year in jail. 

Disgraced police officer Rafael Perez informed authorities about the bogus report filed by the officers in exchange for a lighter sentence for stealing cocaine from an evidence locker. The information provided by Perez about corrupt officers, most of whom worked at the Rampart station, led to one of the city’s largest scandals. 

Harper was acquitted on all counts after the trial ended in November 2000. Liddy and Ortiz also were acquitted of some charges, but convicted along with another officer of obstructing justice. Those convictions were overturned by a judge, who ruled that the jury’s verdict was tainted. 

The district attorney has appealed the judge’s decision to set aside the convictions. That appeal is pending. 

Defendants named in the officers’ lawsuit include Police Chief Bernard Parks, former District Attorney Gil Garcetti and Perez. The officers allege that Parks, Garcetti and others conspired to deprive them of their civil rights by searching their homes at gunpoint and bringing them to trial based on evidence taken from convicted felons. 

The officers called Parks and Garcetti “incompetent” and “unfit to perform the duties for which they were employed.” 

A LAPD spokesman declined to comment on the lawsuit. The district attorney’s spokeswoman said prosecutors are not swayed by the officers’ recent action. 

“We think we have a strong case on appeal,” said Sandi Gibbons. “We hope to eventually see these officers go to prison.” 

Harper has returned to work while Ortiz and Liddy remain on leave without pay.