LAPD Can Be Sued for Racketeering

Tuesday, August 29th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — The city's police department can be sued under federal racketeering laws by people who claim corrupt officers from the Rampart station violated their civil rights, a judge has ruled.

The ruling, reported in Tuesday's Los Angeles Times, could make the Los Angeles Police Department the first in the nation to be sued as a racketeering enterprise.

The move also could increase the city's estimated liability of $100 million for police corruption cases, since the federal Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act allows damages to be tripled.

The LAPD had no immediate comment on Monday's ruling because it had not been briefed on it, police spokesman David Kalish said.

U.S. District Judge William Rea's ruling stems from a lawsuit filed on behalf of Louie Guerrero, who claims officers from the Rampart station choked, kicked and punched him and then arrested him on trumped up charges in 1997.

Guerrero sued the city for alleged civil rights and racketeering violations. The suit was filed on behalf of Guerrero and any others in similar situations.

City attorneys argued the case should be tossed out because the one-year statute of limitations had passed. The judge's ruling, however, places the lawsuit under the RICO law, which has a statute of limitations of 10 years.

More than 100 convictions have been overturned since the LAPD corruption scandal was uncovered last year after allegations officers in an anti-gang unit at the Rampart station beat, shot and framed innocent people.