Cop Arraigned on Attempted Murder

Tuesday, August 1st 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A policeman pleaded innocent Monday to attempted murder and four other officers were arraigned on conspiracy charges stemming from a probe of alleged corruption in an anti-gang unit at the Police Department's Rampart station.

Officer Nino Durden, 32, stood with his head down as his lawyer entered the plea in the 1996 shooting of Javier Ovando, 23, who is paralyzed.

The judge, citing the seriousness of the charges, rejected a defense bid to lower Durden's $680,000 bail. A preliminary hearing was set for Aug. 16.

Charges against Durden and other officers have arisen from allegations by disgraced ex-officer Rafael Perez, who began cooperating with investigators in exchange for leniency after he pleaded guilty to stealing cocaine from an evidence room.

Minutes before Durden entered the courtroom, four other officers were arraigned on unrelated charges of conspiring to frame reputed gang members.

The judge scheduled their trial to begin Sept. 27. They had waived their right to a preliminary hearing in order to get a speedy trial date.

Durden and the other four, Sgts. Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy and Officers Paul Harper and Michael Buchanan, have been suspended without pay.

In a separate action, a Los Angeles Police Department tribunal recommended the firing of another officer connected to the scandal, Humberto Tovar. Chief Bernard Parks, who has the final say, is expected to follow the recommendation, the Los Angeles Times reported in Tuesday's editions.

A former officer accused Tovar of helping to frame a suspected gang member on drug charges during a 1996 arrest. Tovar told the panel the accusation was untrue.