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Hundreds of Criminal Cases Potentially Jeopardized by LAPD Gang Unit Scandal

Prosecutors are reviewing hundreds of cases that rely on the testimony or evidence from at least two Los Angeles Police Department officers who were members of a gang squad suspected of conducting illegal stops and stealing from suspects. Sources, speaking on the condition of anonymity, told the Los Angeles Times that as many as 350 cases could be in jeopardy due to the officers' involvement. But that could be just a fraction of the total number of cases potentially compromised by the scandal. The LAPD has said it is investigating at least 15 officers in total. Depending on how many of those officers are actually involved, the number of cases impacted could be in the thousands, according to law enforcement sources. Experts say that cases relying heavily on the testimony or evidence obtained by officers who are accused of crimes are likely to fall apart, and convictions would be difficult to obtain unless there is additional solid evidence. It is unclear whether the defendants in the hundreds of cases currently under review have been notified.

A months-long LAPD internal affairs investigation found evidence that members of the department’s Mission division gang unit stole from people during illegal traffic stops, and turned off their body cameras in violation of department policy. Work lockers of the officers suspected in the scandal were searched. In addition to internal affairs, the FBI is also investigating the unit for possible constitutional violations. While the broader inquiry is ongoing, the LAPD has referred the investigation into the two officers whose cases are being reviewed to the Los Angeles District Attorney's office, who will decide whether or not to press charges.


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