Police Abuse

L.A. Times Obtains Secret List of Bad Cops

The police union didn't even want prosecutors to have the list.

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LASD/LA Times

California is the only state in the country that blocks prosecutors from seeing entire police personnel files. It's also one of 22 that keeps information on officer discipline from the public.

But now a list compiled by the Los Angeles Sheriff's Department of about 300 deputies with histories of dishonesty and misconduct has been obtained by the Los Angeles Times. The document is dated 2014, the year it was first put together by the then-sheriff, John Scott.

The Times cross-checked the list with court records and news reports to find out why the officers on it were placed there. The roster includes an officer who pepper-sprayed an elderly man, another who forced a woman he pulled over to perform oral sex on him, and one who doused a shirt with taco sauce to replace a bloodied shirt that went missing as evidence.

According to the Times, 69 percent of the officers were on the list for dishonesty. The top reasons after that were family violence, "immoral conduct," stealing, and sex.

The sheriff's department wanted to share the list with prosecutors to warn them of potentially problematic witnesses. Were the list shared with prosecutors, prosecutors would be obliged to share it with defense attorneys too. A police union—the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs—sued to keep the list private.

According to the Times, the officers on the list were potential witnesses in more than 62,000 felony cases since 2000. That represents a gross miscarriage of justice if even a small fraction of those cases actually saw these problem cops serve as witnesses.

There's an argument to be made that many of these officers shouldn't even be allowed to hold on to their jobs. One of the most effective ways to reduce police brutality is to remove problem cops as soon as they present themselves instead of waiting until they commit an unnecessary act of violence and then get defended anyway. Instead, layer upon layer of protection—state civil service rules, union contract provisions, and so on—often inoculate officers from any real consequences for their actions.

"Do we go back and overturn every conviction now?" Elizabeth Gibbons, an attorney who has represented the police union, asked the Times. "That's a can of worms that gets opened if the court adopts the department's argument in this case."

Well, yes: If the convictions are wrongful, they ought to be overturned. The criminal justice system should be centered on justice, not convenience. And if police misbehavior makes justice less convenient, that's an argument for removing bad cops sooner rather than later.

The police union thinks the list should be secret because it could harm bad cops' careers or threaten prosecutions in which they participated. But dishonest and abusive officers should see their careers harmed.

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  1. “Do we go back and overturn every conviction now?” Elizabeth Gibbons, an attorney who has represented the police union, asked the Times.

    Yep. Sorry your job just got so much more challenging, Ms. Gibbons. Maybe you could have tried harder to find some less-evil clients?

    1. Honestly I don’t think she would even need to be a part of that since she works for the Union. The cops are the one’s who don’t want to work.

    2. Is Elizabeth Gibbons saying that the police involved lied in “every conviction”? That’s kind of a shocking admission from the counselor.

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  2. Ed, do you know if the LAT has published the full list? I couldn’t find it linked in any of the stories. That would be a good resource for defense and civil rights attorneys to start getting people out of prison.

  3. If they’re still working for the sheriff’s dept, I suppose that means they had a good reason to keep their jobs and juries can trust them.

    But just in case a jury might think otherwise, jurors should know about any…hiccups…on a cop’s record.

    So many convictions are based on “are you going to call that nice officer a liar?” Which would be easier to do if his own employer called him a liar.

    1. (naturally, most of these prosecutions won’t go to a jury)

  4. Instead, layer upon layer of protection?state civil service rules, union contract provisions, and so on?often inoculate officers from any real consequences for their actions.

    There are zero repercussions for departments who fail to discipline officers. In the rare event of a civil judgment against a police department, it’s the taxpayer who foots the bill. Nor do failed prosecutions or overturned convictions due to police officers misconduct during trials lead to any punishment for departments.

    1. I’ve always thought the money should come out of the city’s police budget.
      We’ll we wanted to get you nice new cars, but…

      Someone else here had another good idea. Require bonding.

  5. “Do we go back and overturn every conviction now?” Elizabeth Gibbons, an attorney who has represented the police union, asked the Times. “That’s a can of worms that gets opened if the court adopts the department’s argument in this case.”

    Yes, next question you slimy union hack.

    1. It’s really a fucked up mentality that person has. Shocked that evidence for wrongful conviction might lead to those convictions being overturned.

      It’s one of those awful things where ratings are based on conviction rate or something. Like when I see a DA running and they advertise 99% Conviction rating! As if that’s purely a good thing on its face.

      1. Look. The cops don’t arrest innocent people. Everyone they arrest is guilty. So anything less than a 100% conviction rate means guilty people going free.

  6. L.A. Times Obtains Secret List of Bad Cops

    By reading through the recent news.

  7. How bout we just shoot their fuckin dogs.

    1. Seems a bit harsh. Just use asset forfeiture to take the dogs from them.
      I mean it ain’t the poor dog’s fault it got trafficked to a police department.


  8. “Do we go back and overturn every conviction now?” Elizabeth Gibbons, an attorney who has represented the police union, asked the Times. “That’s a can of worms that gets opened if the court adopts the department’s argument in this case.”

    Well, I mean it’s not surprising that an attorney that works for the Union would say this but it represents a huge ‘what the fuck’ disconnect between what the Union is and what the Police force itself is touted as. They might want to be careful of those mask slips, people might think they don’t give a flying fuck about justice.

  9. “… dishonest and abusive officers, and those who provide them top cover, should see their careers harmed.”

    There, that’s better.

  10. I just don’t understand why people think cops are good people who deserve any amount of respect.

  11. 300 bad cops in LAPD alone. 300 still “serving”. 300 protected by their union, their boss, and their fellow officers. What does that say about the officers who condone and allow the bad cops? How can a “good cop” do that? Or are 300 just the ones that got caught?

    What about the rest of the country? Can’t we extrapolate? I am 75. I have not felt safe my entire life when I see a police presence. This is nothing new, except it is getting worse every decade.

    I trust a stranger before I would trust a cop. But I trust myself, first & foremost, to protect me. Isn’t that what any self-respecting, responsible person would do? I don’t need a savior or a ruler. Do you?

    1. That’s why I pack,the cops only come with yellow tape here in the Shooting Star,Corrupticut.

  12. OK, lets see all the bad cops

  13. Every case should be reviewed or overturned when these lying cops are discovered-they are legion. I can name two that lied in print about me & are still serving-or perhaps convicting innocents with more lies.

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