Heads Roll at the LAPD
Posted by shadmia on May 10, 2007
Los Angeles Police Chief William J Bratton took action against two of his top officers who were involved in the MacArthur Park incident on May 1st, in which police in riot gear swung batons and fired rubber bullets into crowds of people in order to break up the immigration rally. The police chief saying he was “embarrassed” apologized for the behavior of the department. “I feel comfortable apologizing,” Bratton said. “Things were done that shouldn’t have been done.”
The two top officers who faced disciplinary action were, two-star deputy chief, Cayler “Lee” Carter Jr., commanding officer of the operations central bureau and his second-in-command, Louis Gray. Cayler “Lee” Carter has been in the department for more than three decades and was responsible for deployment of 1,700 officers serving more than 1 million residents. He was demoted to commander and ordered to work from home. Cmdr. Louis Gray joined the force 39 years ago. He was moved to a post where he will have less authority. Police Chief William Bratton announced the changes at a news conference along with Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and the president of the city’s civilian police commission, John Mack.
“As chief of the department, I have to be comfortable with the leadership team I have around me,” Bratton said. “This is not a witch hunt.”
This does not look like the end of disciplinary action. There are currently four separate ongoing investigations. The police department has announced that it will conduct two internal investigations of the May 1 incident, and the department’s Office of the Inspector General will conduct a third. The FBI has also begun an inquiry. In the meantime Bratton announced that “about 60 of the department’s most-experienced officers, who were involved in the incident, will be taken off the street pending the investigations.”
Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa condemned the Police Department’s use of force against demonstrators and reporters at an immigration rally, saying he was “deeply, personally troubled” by the clash. The Mayor cut short his trip to Latin America, returned to Los Angeles and issued the following statement:
“I have reviewed extensive video of the incident and, like every Angeleno, I am obviously and deeply concerned. I have asked Chief Bratton to oversee a complete and comprehensive review of this incident,” he said. “While we won’t make any rush to judgment, we can’t be afraid to make tough judgments about this or any incident.”
John Mack, president of the Los Angeles Police Commission, said he, too, was “deeply disturbed and very disappointed” by the TV images, and vowed that police officers and commanders who violated city policy “will be held accountable.”
In 2000, Los Angeles police also used force against demonstrators at the Democratic National Convention. The city eventually paid $4.1 million in settlements to those injured. Police have since created a protocol for crowd control to keep officers from firing on peaceful demonstrators and to create a safe area for news media. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa acknowledged last week that those rules were not followed.