Los Angeles' ongoing police scandal continues to grow: As many as 70 officers are now under investigation for their possible roles in an ugly web of shootings, beatings, drug-dealing, frame-ups, perjury, and corruption. (See "Gangsta Cops," January.)
It's still unclear how far the wrongdoing reaches, and not all of the charges levied by Rafael Perez--the coke-dealing cop whose testimony unleashed the scandal--have been corroborated. But more than 40 convictions have been overturned to date, and the victims of police abuse and false imprisonment are revving up to sue the city. Officials estimate that L.A. will have to pay out at least $125 million in settlements, and perhaps much more.
Where will the city find that kind of money? Mayor Richard Riordan has an idea, one that's sparked its own outraged response. Los Angeles, he announced in February, should set aside some of its take from the recent federal settlement with the tobacco industry.
Not so fast, say other officials. We were going to use that money to make the city's sidewalks wheelchair-accessible--a change required by the Americans with Disabilities Act.