A federal appeals court on Monday upheld a $15 million award to three officers who accused the Los Angeles Police Department of wrongly arresting them and making them scapegoats during the notorious Rampart scandal.
The massive corruption scandal led to the investigation of 82 incidents involving 50 officers and reversal of more than 100 convictions tainted by police misconduct.
A jury in 2006 determined that the three men were each entitled to $5 million because they were wrongly arrested and charged with filing false police reports.
The three were implicated by former officer Rafael Perez, the central figure of the scandal in which officers were alleged to have beaten, robbed, framed and shot innocent people in the city's tough Rampart neighborhood. Dozens of officers were investigated, leading to some resignations and internal discipline, but only a small number of prosecutions.
Perez told investigators that the three men — Paul Harper, Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy — had lied about finding a gun on a gang suspect during a 1996 arrest.
Harper and Ortiz are still with the department, but Liddy has left, according Officer Karen Smith, a LAPD spokeswoman.
The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals in its decision Monday noted that on three different occasions Perez gave investigators significantly divergent accounts of what allegedly happened during the arrest, including the inaccurate detail that a music sound system had to be dismantled at the arrest scene.
A state court jury did convict the three men in 2000 of conspiracy to obstruct justice in the framing of two reputed gang members. A Superior Court judge threw out the convictions a month later, citing faulty jury instructions.
Prosecutors decided not to pursue the case, and a judge dismissed the charges in 2004.