03/02/2001

D.A. investigates police incidents
[Los Angeles County, CA]

Troy Anderson, Staff Writer
February 27, 2001 Tuesday, Valley Edition
Copyright 2001 Tower Media, Inc.
The Daily News of Los Angeles
February 27, 2001 Tuesday, Valley Edition

(LOS ANGELES) -- The District Attorney's "roll out" team investigated 86 police shooting incidents and five in-custody deaths and prosecuted one officer in the first 12 months since it was restored.

With a $1 million U.S. Bureau of Justice Administration grant that funded the program expiring in June, District Attorney Steve Cooley plans to ask the Board of Supervisors to provide money for the program in the county budget for the fiscal year that begins July 1.

The team, called the District Attorney Response Team since it was restored last February, investigated officer-involved shooting incidents that led to death or injury and in-custody deaths in most police jurisdictions in the county.

"The program has been successful in the first year of its implementation," Cooley wrote in the report to county supervisors. "Virtually every major law enforcement agency in the county has joined the program."

Last September, the District Attorney Office's Justice System Integrity Division filed its first criminal case against Vice Officer Ronald Orosco of the Los Angeles Police Department's 77th Street Division.

Orosco, 31, pleaded not guilty to a grand jury indictment accusing him of shooting an unarmed motorist in the back, according to the District Attorney's Office.

Charles Beatty, 66, was shot early in the evening of June 14 after Orosco and his partner, both in plainclothes, pulled Beatty over after he drove around their unmarked vehicle at Central and Florence avenues in South Los Angeles. He was treated at County-USC Medical Center for a bullet wound in his back.

John Spillane, head deputy of the District Attorney's Justice System Integrity Division, said that since the late 1970s when the roll-out team started, prosecutors pursued charges against officers in fewer than 10 cases.

"Historically, we have found - as most district attorneys in counties throughout the country - that our law enforcement officials do use force appropriately," he said. "So one would expect that criminal charges would be brought very rarely."

The Board of Supervisors' September 1999 vote to re-establish the roll- out team, which was disbanded in 1996 to cut costs, came amid a sweeping inquiry into the LAPD Rampart Division corruption scandal.

At that time, the board requested annual reports on DART.

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