Jury convicts three of four in first Rampart trial

PoliceOne Staff Report
(LOS ANGELES) -- A jury yesterday found three of four officers on trial to be guilty of framing gang members and other crimes, in the first of the Ramparts police scandal trials.

Sgt. Brian Liddy and Edward Ortiz and Officer Michael Buchanan were convicted of conspiracy to plant evidence and perjury for fabricating charges against two gang members, who the officers claimed ran down Liddy and Buchanan with a pickup truck during a July 1996 gang sweep, the Associated Press reported.

Officer Paul Harper was acquitted of all charges.

"There's good cops and there's bad cops," jury foreman Victor Flores told the court, "A lot of us on the jury felt that they just didn't happen to cover themselves enough and they never thought it would come back to haunt them."

The attorney for Buchanan, Harland Braun, believed that the public attention that has been focused on the four officers swayed the jury's decision to convict.

"There's been so much publicity about the Rampart scandal the jury might be afraid if they came in with all not guiltys, people would think it was the O. J. jury," Braun told the AP.

The scandal, which centered around accusations that the anti-gang unit of the Rampart station, lead to the dismissal of approximately 100 criminal cases and may cost the city $125 million in lawsuits, according to some estimates.

Ortiz, 44, told the wire service that he didn't understand the jury's decision. "I still believe to this day that we are innocent and that we did our job to keep the citizens of L.A. ... safe from all the gangs and all the crime that's going on out there," he said.

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