LAPD officers accused of falsifying reports, wrongly classifying people as gang members

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Members of an elite division of the Los Angeles Police Department are under investigation over allegations that they falsified reports and listed some innocent people as gang members.

An unspecified number of LAPD officers working in the Metropolitan Division assigned to South L.A. and who work on crime suppression duties are accused of falsifying police reports by classifying innocent people as gang members.

"It is one of the most awful designations that a defendant can have, quite honestly, because being a gang member has harsher sentencing consequences," said Silva Megerditchian, CEO & President of SLM Law.

The LAPD says all of the officers involved have now been assigned to inactive duty or have been removed from the field.

Megerditchian says that all of the reports the accused police officers have ever written could now be called into question.

"This follows them through every arrest, through every interaction with police officers, because if they're going to lie on something like that, how can we trust them to write anything that's factual and accurate," said Megerditchian.

In at least one of the cases, body-worn cameras proved that there were inaccuracies in the officer's field interview cards.

"An officer's integrity must be absolute. There is no place in the Department for any individual who would purposely falsify information on a Department report," LAPD Chief Michel Moore said in a statement.

Megerditchian says this will have lasting effects on the trust between the public, the department and future hires.

"What new person who wants to become a police officer is going to apply with LAPD knowing that this kind of activity happens," said Megerditchian. "It's going to affect them in every capacity."

The LAPD says they are looking to the district attorney's office into whether criminal action will be taken against the officers.

The D.A.'s office would not comment to Eyewitness News on the case Monday.

The investigation began in early 2019 when a mother in the San Fernando Valley was notified that her son had been identified as a gang member, the LAPD said.

"She believed her son was misidentified and reported the mistake to a supervisor at a nearby police station. The supervisor immediately reviewed the circumstances, including body-worn video and other information, finding inaccuracies in the documentation completed by an officer," the LAPD statement said.

References to her son as a gang member were removed from the documents and three officers fell under investigation. The department said Internal Affairs investigators found more inaccuracies on field interview cards that police fill out after stopping and questioning people.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union for police officers, said it has confidence that Moore ""will oversee a thorough and fair process to determine the facts, and to also ensure that any impacted officer is accorded his or her due process rights."

The Metropolitan Division fields special suppression units in high-crime areas. Among other things, officers stop some drivers to search for guns and drugs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Copyright © 2020 KABC-TV. All Rights Reserved.