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The LAPD Has Suspended Cops for Allegedly Putting an Innocent Person in a Gang Database

Want the best of VICE News straight to your inbox? Sign up here.The Los Angeles Police Department has suspended or reassigned several cops accused of mistakenly identifying an innocent person as a gang member and falsifying records. An investigation into the officers’ conduct was spurred by a San Fernando Valley mother who told police her…

The LAPD Has Suspended Cops for Allegedly Putting an Innocent Person in a Gang Database

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The Los Angeles Police Department has suspended or reassigned several cops accused of mistakenly identifying an innocent person as a gang member and falsifying records.

An investigation into the officers’ conduct was spurred by a San Fernando Valley mother who told police her son was incorrectly pegged as part of a gang in early 2019. She asked that he be removed from any gang database, and the department complied. After reviewing the circumstances that led to his labeling, which haven’t been fully detailed, the LAPD “initiated a personnel investigation into the actions of three involved officers,” the department said in a statement Tuesday.

Those three officers and others have since been removed from the field or assigned to inactive duty, the department said. None of the officers have been named by the police department.

People can be entered into the state’s gang database for admitting to being gang members, but they can also be listed as gang members if California police officers notice they frequent “gang areas,” have “gang tattoos,” or have a history of “gang-related crimes.”

“Public trust is the foundation of community policing and the LAPD has zero tolerance for any employee that would violate that trust,” the LAPD said in the news release. “The department is working with the Justice System Integrity Division of the L.A. County District Attorney’s office on any potential criminal charges that may arise from any misconduct.”

The Los Angeles Times said “more than a dozen” cops were under investigation and “some” had been removed, while the New York Times reported that the dozen-plus officers had been either suspended or reassigned after a monthslong internal investigation. That investigation reportedly led to allegations that officers misrepresented information gathered in their field notes, and in at least one instance allegedly documented findings that were inconsistent with their own body camera or car recordings.

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