A series of cop-related crimes and shitstorms within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) that later became known as the Rampart Scandal began on March 18, 1997, with a shooting and road rage incident between a white policeman named Frank Lyga, who was working as part of an undercover drug unit, and an off-duty black police officer named Kevin Gaines.
Lyga was driving on Ventura Boulevard and, while stopped at a red light, a green sports utility vehicle driven by Gaines inexplicably threatened Lyga, flashing gang signs with his hands. During this interaction, Gaines told Lyga he would “put a cap up your ass.”
In response, Lyga told Gaines to pull over. Gaines did pull over, but Lyga drove off. Gaines chased him with the SUV, edging through heavy traffic.
A concerned Lyga radioed his partners for help and readied himself to use his own gun. He saw Gaines had pulled a gun and had threatened Lyga again.
Lyga fired two shots at Gaines. The first missed, but the second hit the driver just below his right armpit, puncturing his heart before stopping in his lung. Gaines then pulled into a gas station and stopped, and died. The scene is replicated in the film “City of Lies.”
The day after the shooting, a media frenzy erupted. A group of blacks went to the scene of the incident and began conducting their own unofficial investigation. This conduct intimidated known witnesses.
Three days after the shooting, famed black attorney Johnnie Cochran, Jr. stepped into the case, having been hired by Gaines’s family to investigate a potential claim against Lyga and the city. Cochran later filed a $25 million-dollar lawsuit.
Gaines was attached to the Community Resources Against Street Hoodlums (CRASH) unit. Gaines also had ties to rap producer Death Row Records and the Bloods gang.
Evidence of Kevin Gaines’s criminal behavior first surfaced in the summer of 1996. He had three off-duty road rage incidents, and he was living large for a cop.
Police responded to a 911 call reporting a shooting at a Hollywood Hills mansion. Gaines, off duty, showed up at the scene and is alleged to have initiated an altercation with the responding officers. The officers handcuffed Gaines when he became verbally abusive and provocative.
According to police records, Gaines shouted profanities and stated, “I hate fucking cops.”
Gaines claimed he was mistreated by the police and hired an attorney to file a claim against the city. However, when LAPD Internal Affairs investigated the incident, they discovered the 911 call had actually been made by Gaines himself.
Investigating officer Russell Poole, who later became deeply involved in investigating the Rampart Scandal and the killing of rapper Notorious Biggie, claimed that “the evidence suggests that he did that to engage LAPD in a confrontation and basically wanted to secure a pension or whatever by filing a lawsuit.”
Lyga was cleared in the matter, but within months of being cleared, Lyga found himself under investigation again. On March 27, 1998, one pound of cocaine that was booked and held in evidence from one of Lyga’s previous arrests was found missing from the Parker Center property room.
A subsequent investigation led to another black officer, Rafael Perez, who was an associate of Gaines’ and was the one stealing the cocaine to frame Lyga.
The city eventually settled the Lyga situation with Cochran for $250,000.
Judge Schoettler wrote a letter to then LAPD Chief Bernard Parks stating, “Had the matter been submitted to me for a determination, I would have found in favor of the City of Los Angeles.”
Schoettler’s letter alleged political reasons for settling the case, namely, City Attorney James Hahn was preparing to run for mayor and black voters were his primary demographic.
Perez was arrested for stealing over $800,000 worth of cocaine from the LAPD police evidence room for which he copped a plea deal to turn in other fellow corrupt cops, including his black partner David Mack.
Mack was convicted of robbing over $700,000 from a Bank of America branch and then went on a Vegas gambling trip with Perez.
Mack was awarded the LAPD Medal for Heroism in 1993 for shooting a drug dealer who reportedly threatened his partner, Rafael “Ray” Pérez. It was later found out to be a lie and that they planted the gun on the suspect.
Mack was sentenced to 14 years and three months in prison and has never revealed the whereabouts of the money. He was released on May 14, 2010.
Officers Gaines, Mack and Perez had ties with the Piru Bloods street gang, and Mack worked as a highly paid, off-duty personal bodyguard of known Compton Mob Piru Bloods member and gangster rap Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight, who is currently serving time in jail for murder. Perez also did security for Knight.
Rapper Tupac Shakur was shot to death after a boxing match in Las Vegas. Mack was suspected to be involved in the murder of Tupac’s former friend-turned-rival Notorious Biggie Smalls, who was killed with very rare armor-piercing Gecko 9mm bullets of which Mack was found to possess in his home.
The main theory of the 2018 Netflix series “Unsolved” holds that Mack and Perez were involved in the Biggie hit. However, LAPD, after reinvigorating the case, now says it has solved the case, and Mack and/or Perez were not directly involved. No arrests have been made after 24 years. Several of the suspects are now either in prison or are deceased from other live as a thug, die as a thug activities.
“Unsolved” is a stark portrayal of toxic and violent black gang Thug Life in general and how it infested the police force. The causa proxima of the death of the two gangster rappers is easy to discern. It was a culture of no discipline macho drama, and thug hangers on who are easily triggered to violence by slights real and imagined and by endless stupid turf wars.
Another CRASH thug partner of Perez was a black officer named Nino Durden, who, along with Perez, shot and framed a gang member named Javier Ovando (paralyzed and paid $15 million).
The framing involved placing an AK 47 from police evidence on his person with serial numbers scratched out by Durden. Officer Durden even lied about the case on the stand and received extra jail time.
Durdan, like Perez, got off light and served only three years in prison.
In the end, Perez’s behavior led to over 140 civil suits against the LAPD, which paid out $125 million city-taxpayer dollars in settlements.
Along the way, Perez made false allegations against white LAPD officers Sgt. Brian Liddy, Paul Harper and Sgt. Edward Ortiz. They were awarded $5 million each. A fourth man, former LAPD officer Michael Buchanan, shared in a smaller settlement in another case. In total $20.5 million resolved six cases involving the officers’ smashing of Perez’s credibility. Other innocent and mostly white LAPD officers were also falsely accused.
In February 2000, Pérez was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing eight pounds of cocaine from an LAPD evidence locker.
At his sentencing, Pérez read a statement in which he said, “I cheated on my wife. I cheated on my employer, and I cheated on all of you, the people of Los Angeles.”
However, on July 24, 2001, due to his plea bargain, Pérez was quickly released from prison and placed on parole.
Pérez subsequently pled guilty to new charges resulting from the shooting of Javier Ovando. He was charged with two felony counts: (1) conspiracy to violate Ovando’s civil rights; and (2) possessing a firearm with an eliminated serial number. It was the same firearm that was used as evidence to frame Ovando.
Despite the serious nature of this bad-cop activity, he was lightly sentenced again on May 6, 2002, to serve just two years in federal prison. He was released in June 2004.
On October 31, 2006, Pérez pled no contest to a felony count of perjury before the Torrance Superior Court. He was sentenced to an additional three years of probation and 300 hours of community service.
As of 2015, Perez was reported to work as a limo driver. He was seen driving for Harvey Weinstein.
Frontline did an excellent documentary on the fiasco. It appears to be country blocked in the US, but not elsewhere.