The Los Angeles Police Department today was investigating a cop party performance of a Michael Brown parody song, which mocked the victim of the infamous Ferguson, Missouri police shooting that sparked a national debate over how law enforcement interacts with unarmed black men.
The performance was a version of Jim Croce's "Bad, Bad Leroy Brown," except lyrics included the lines, "And Michael looked like some old Swiss cheese / His brain splattered on the floor / And he's dead, dead Michael Brown / Deadest man in the whole damn town."
Protesters already planning on a 6 p.m. "Festivus" demonstration on police shootings outside LAPD headquarters tonight said they would be decrying the incident as well. The parody performance on Monday, Dec. 15 at the Glendale Elks Grand Lodge was captured on video (below).
Los Angeles police Officer Drake Madison told us the party involved an LAPD detective who had retired in 2007. Another source told us the detective was the host of the event, which was the after-party for a charity golf tournament.
Madison said that Internal Affairs would conduct a "fact-finding" preliminary investigation to determine if any active LAPD officers were involved in misconduct at the party.
"If so," he said, "they'll initiate a formal investigation."
He said the department doesn't believe the event had any formal connection to the LAPD. For example, he said, officials don't think that any money was raised directly for the force.
Political commentator Jasmyne Cannick said the incident was "almost hard to believe" given the tension between police and critics these days.
"It's just as bad as the New York police officers wearing 'I can breath,' t-shirts," she said in reference to the police choke-hold death of Eric Garner, who said "I can't breath" as he died. "It slaps you in the face."
Brown, an unarmed teenager, was fatally shot by a Ferguson cop in a confrontation last summer. A local grand jury decided not to prosecute the officer involved, inspiring raucous and sometimes violent protests from coast to coast.
Cannick noted that the timing of this video was especially bad for the LAPD, which promised this month to release the autopsy results in the controversial, officer-involved shooting of Ezell Ford.
"It's completely insensitive and inappropriate at a time when those protesting police brutality and law enforcement are at odds and trying to figure out how to come together," Cannick told us.
The Elks lodge, which is also investigating the incident, gave L.A. Weekly a statement over the phone. It's attributed to trustee Jerry Stephens. It includes an apology:
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The Glendale lodge has recently become aware of an incident that occurred on Monday, December 15.
The song was performed at a private dinner party following a charity golf tournament that was inappropriate and that does not [reflect] the values of the Glendale Elks members.
Although the golf tournament and dinner were organized by an Elks member, the majority of attendees were not Elks members.
The song that was sung was a parody of the song 'Bad, Bad Leroy Brown,' whose lyrics were changed for negative aspects of current events, for which we sincerely apologize.
The Glendale Elks does not condone actions which are offensive or insensitive in nature.
This incident is currently under investigation by lodge officers, and immediate action will be taken against those responsible.
The song performed also included these lines:
Michael Brown learned a lesson about a messin' with a badass policeman ... And he's bad, bad Michael Brown / Baddest thug in the whole damn town.