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Chief seeks to fire officer accused of falsifying data

LOS ANGELES — Los Angeles police Chief Michel Moore has moved to fire an officer who allegedly falsified information collected during traffic stops, and the department is referring the case to prosecutors to consider possible criminal charges, the agency announced Jan. 24.

The officer in question was not identified. The LAPD has been investigating allegations that some officers falsified information collected during traffic stops, falsely describing some motorists as gang members and causing their names to be wrongly entered into a statewide gang database.

According to a statement released by the department, an internal investigation into the alleged falsification of data is continuing, but Moore has already “concluded that the actions of one officer was a serious violation of department policy.”

“Chief Moore has directed the officer to an administrative tribunal for the purpose of removal,” according to the LAPD. “The department has also presented this case for criminal filing consideration. The two other officers involved in those incidents remain assigned home pending the outcome of additional investigation.”

Last week, Moore told the Police Commission that 20 officers have been reassigned during the investigation into alleged data tampering, with 10 assigned to home duty and 10 others taken off patrol duties.

According to an earlier report by NBC4, which first disclosed the allegations, officers may have falsified field interview cards during traffic stops to boost their traffic-stop statistics due to pressure from supervisors to focus on stopping gang members.

Various media reports earlier this month indicated the District Attorney’s Office was already considering possible criminal charges against one officer, Braxton Shaw, who has been placed on administrative leave.

Moore said the allegations were traced back to early 2019, when the mother of a young San Fernando Valley man was notified that the LAPD believed her son was part of a gang, but she told officers her son was mistakenly identified.

Moore said the mother met with a division supervisor to challenge the gang status. People who are identified as gang members are placed into a statewide investigative database known as “Cal-Gangs,” which can potentially lead to future legal problems for people on the list.

Moore said the woman and son, who were not identified, were told that the son would be removed from the system.

“I am committed to continuing the pursuit of a thorough examination of all of the circumstances of this failure including what organizational issues or motivations may have influenced this behavior,” Moore said in a statement Jan. 24. 

“I have heard clearly the voices of those in our community who believe these actions discovered have existed in our past as well as today. And while to date our investigation has found the vast majority of the time our personnel have acted with integrity, we are determined to understand what motivations existed for anyone to commit serious misconduct in the falsification of information on a department report.”

The LAPD insisted in its department statement that charges are already being made to its procedures to ensure the accuracy of officers’ reports.

“LAPD is currently implementing additional safeguards to ensure the accuracy and legitimacy of the information recorded by officers in the field,” according to the department. “Some of these safeguards include elevating the supervisory review and approval of gang field identification cards, including the review of mandated body-worn video recordings by all uniform personnel during the completion of gang (field identifications), and elevating the appeals process for those individuals that believe they were misidentified as a gang member or desire to be removed from the database.”

The department has also ordered the retraining for all Metropolitan and gang-enforcement personnel regarding the more stringent reviews of information leading to people’s names being added to the gang database.

News of the field identification probe came a year after an investigation by the Los Angeles Times found that LAPD Metropolitan Division officers stopped black drivers at a rate more than five times their share of the city’s population. In response, the department announced last fall it would drastically cut back on pulling over random vehicles.

“I have heard clearly the voices of those in our communitywho believe these actions discovered have existed in our past as well as today.”

— LAPD Chief Michel Moore