By Hillel Aron
By Joseph Tsidulko
By Patrick Range McDonald
By David Futch
By Hillel Aron
By Dennis Romero
By Jill Stewart
By Dennis Romero
The case was bound over for trial, and Holmes spent the next six months in jail, waiting for a trial date, conferring with the public defender assigned to his case, mulling over the offers presented by prosecutors. "It was like Let's Make a Deal, a new offer every time I went down there," Holmes recalls. Finally, tired of stalling and tired of jail, Holmes took a deal -- pleaded no contest to possession of cocaine and resisting arrest, the sentence being the time already served. On October 13, Scatterbrain went home.
It would be just another disputed case, the suspect's word against the cops', were it not for Holmes' parole officer, Agent Jorge Carroll of the California Youth Authority. When Carroll first heard of the beating, he recalled in an interview, he told Holmes, "Well, you probably deserved it." But Holmes insisted on his innocence, and Carroll decided to go to the scene and look for witnesses. He located several.
He took it on the chin (and the eye, and the temple): Shadron Holmes after his arrest
One was Chris Lewis, 35, who lived next door to Holmes. Lewis said he saw the cops run into the driveway with guns drawn, screaming oaths at Holmes and ordering him to stop. He saw Holmes stop, and saw two officers handcuff him with his hands behind his back. Lewis then left his apartment and went out to the street, expecting to find Holmes in front. Instead, Lewis said he heard cries for help from the rear of the apartment court.
Another witness, Volare Power, said she heard the commotion from the beating and headed back to see what was going on. She saw Holmes on the ground, with two officers kicking and beating him. She said the officers then turned their attention to her. "They told her to get the fuck out of there if she didn't want to go to jail," Carroll's report states.
An 18-year veteran of the state Youth Authority, Carroll said he was reluctant to dispute police officers in the field. But he said he found the field interviews persuasive. "These witnesses weren't his friends, they weren't his relatives," Carroll said. "I didn't sense that they were fabricating events." As to Holmes, he added, "It's not like I'm giving him breaks here. Hell, I've locked him up before. But I know he's not doing drugs, 'cause I test him. And he's not stupid enough to be attacking [the police officers]."
Carroll declined to comment on the broader implications of the case, but said he was offended by what had happened to Holmes. "I think they did a mini¬≠Rodney King on him," Carroll said.
to document the witnesses to Holmes' beating, he is no crusader. He said he forwarded his findings to Holmes' attorney and left it at that. But Scatterbrain was indignant. He filed a complaint with Police Watch, a state-bar certified lawyer referral service, and he spoke to the Weeklydespite his fears of retaliation.
The arrest, the beating, the trumped-up charges, all are standard practice for the LAPD gang squad, Scatter says. "It's CRASH. They man-haters. CRASH hate everybody. They don't care if it's your granny, they'll harass your granny." Born and raised on the streets south of the Coliseum, Scatter acknowledges that he can only speak about the cops on his home turf, the LAPD's 77th Division. But he says the revelations from the Rampart Division sounded strikingly familiar: "I'm telling you, 77th, it's just like Rampart. There's no difference. The same craftiness, the same everything."
FROM THE MOMENT RAFAEL PEREZ STRUCK HIS DEAL and started talking about widespread misconduct by his fellow officers at the Rampart CRASH unit, the LAPD, the federal government and the city of Los Angeles have been faced with a critical and fateful question: How big was the problem? How wide was its scope, how deep did it go?
Chief Bernard Parks responded to Perez's revelations by commissioning an internal Board of Inquiry to review LAPD operations and determine whether the problems at Rampart extended citywide. It's conclusion, detailed in a 362-page report last March, found that "the Rampart corruption incident occurred because a few individuals decided to engage in blatant misconduct and, in some cases, criminal behavior."
That may be the case with the extraordinary crimes Rafael Perez confessed to -- including home-invasion robberies and the theft of cocaine from LAPD evidence lockers -- but what of the other crimes he accused his fellow officers of committing, crimes of the zealot: unwarranted shootings, planted evidence, excessive force? Was that sort of conduct really limited to Rampart?
Tools of the trade: Cuffs await suspects in an LAPD paddy wagon
Our search for an answer started with the usual suspects -- the civil litigators, defense attorneys and police-reform advocates who make up L.A.'s corps of police watchdogs. They said it loud and clear: Misconduct like Perez described at Rampart takes place throughout the LAPD, and especially in the specialized units, where the department's cowboy elements are nurtured and extolled. "Those of us who have been doing this for many years would not have distinguished Rampart from any other division," says Robert Mann, considered the dean of L.A.'s police-litigation bar. "The only thing that stands out about Rampart is you have somebody talking."