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
During the same period, Poole was getting a taste of life at the top of the LAPD. Assigned for the first time to the elite Robbery-Homicide Division, Poole found that cops there spent their afternoons on the golf course and made case decisions based on their own career prospects. He found that his new partner was one of the leading exponents of the go-along, get-along police culture. And he found his own hard-charging attitude marked him as an outsider.
Poole's frustration began to mount. Here he was, surrounded by intriguing leads -- were there more cops at Death Row? Was there a connection between Gaines and McCauley? -- and nobody wanted to help him get answers. Now Death Row was implicated in a murder -- were there cops involved? He requested authority to pursue numerous leads but was rebuffed.
David Mack's arrest for bank robbery in late 1997 hit Poole like a cattle prod -- here was another black, criminal cop. Then Poole was assigned to probe still another bad apple, Mack's close friend Perez, and from there the investigation shifted into Rampart. But when Poole turned up an entrenched pattern of police abuse and misconduct in the CRASH unit, the LAPD brass, and Poole's partner, remained indifferent. Once again, he was told to curtail his inquiries.
No wonder the successive investigations left Poole's head spinning. No wonder Poole was outraged that his department declined to follow up on the clues he'd put together. No wonder Poole was thrilled when he was contacted by an investigative reporter who might pursue the fallow leads.
EXCEPT THAT'S NOT WHAT HAPPENED. Sullivan does a fine job of laying out all of the material Poole amassed over the final three years of his career at the LAPD -- all the evidence, all the leads, all the rumors, every red herring floated by any jailhouse snitch in the state prison system -- but he does little to advance it on any front.
We learn nothing new, for example, about Compton. It was home to Suge Knight and also, apparently, to David Mack, but did that lead to any connection between the two men? Did Knight and Mack know each other, as some have speculated? Did they attend school together? Did they have any friends in common?
We hear about mortgage brokers and real estate deals, including an investigator who located "dozens of real estate records" linking "Perez, Mack and at least two other LAPD officers" to "a screen of phony transactions," but the records, and the investigator, go unnamed.
More disappointing, Sullivan backs off key material from the lengthy story he published on Poole and the Rampart cops in Rolling Stone last year. In particular, the Rolling Stone piece quoted two sources who placed David Mack at the scene of the Biggie Smalls shooting. One is "a security guard"; the other, Damion Butler, "Smalls' closest friend," points to a picture of Mack and declares, "I'm sure this guy was standing just outside the door to the museum . . ." In Labyrinth, however, the guard is gone and Butler "offered little" crime-scene identification when interviewed by detectives. In fact, in the book, nobody places Mack at the scene, leaving distinctly unclear the question of how Poole tied Mack to the Smalls shooting in the first place.
Labyrinth is written in the style of the classic exposé, challenging convention, denouncing doubters and demanding answers. It seems reasonable to expect that, for all his conviction, Sullivan would supply some closure. But the book ends with a phone call from FBI agents promising a continued investigation into the leads surfaced by Detective Poole. Readers looking for answers will simply have to wait.