The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES, CA - The city will pay about $70 million to settle lawsuits that alleged misconduct or brutality by corrupt police officers in an anti-gang unit, a newspaper reported Thursday.
Since the allegations surfaced more than five years ago, 214 lawsuits have been filed by mostly drug dealers, gang members and other criminals who said they had been framed, shot and beaten by officers in the Rampart division's anti-gang unit, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Twenty-seven claims were dismissed and eight are pending settlements, which are part of the $70 million total payout, said Jennifer Roth Krieger, chief financial and administrative officer in the city attorney's office.
The payout is considerably less than the $125 million projected in the early stages of the scandal by Mayor James Hahn, who was then the city attorney.
Despite the criminal backgrounds of many of the plaintiffs, city lawyers concluded when reviewing the records of the officers involved that more than three-fourths of the cases were too risky to let them proceed to trial.
"When you have a problem officer, it's very difficult to go forward," Chief Deputy City Attorney Terree A. Bowers told the Times. "This has got to be a wake-up call for the city. It could have been worse."
The average settlement was $400,000. Javier Francisco Ovando, a gang member who was shot by police and left paralyzed, received the largest settlement _ $15 million. He had been sentenced to 23 years in prison after two officers testified he was armed when he was shot. His conviction was eventually overturned.
More than 100 criminal convictions were overturned as a result of the scandal, and more than a dozen officers left the force, some after being fired and others resigning amid investigations of alleged misconduct.
Many of the allegations were made by ex-officer Rafael Perez, who later emerged as the main culprit after his accusations against other officers were largely disproved.
Copyright 2013 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.
Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.