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Brass knuckles, body cams and bad behavior: LAPD probe links troubled Valley gang units

Libor Jany and Richard Winton, Los Angeles Times on

Published in News & Features

LOS ANGELES — As Los Angeles police internal investigators dig deeper into one of the bigger scandals in recent department history, they have uncovered links between two troubled anti-gang units in the San Fernando Valley, multiple law enforcement sources told the Los Angeles Times.

When the controversy first spilled into public view in August — with officers accused of illegally searching and stealing from people, and attempting to cover it up by turning off their body cameras — then-Chief Michel Moore said the problems appeared to be confined to the Mission Division.

But three sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they feared retaliation for discussing a pending investigation and sensitive personnel matters, said the probe had broadened to focus on a group of officers who initially worked together in another police division, Foothill, which neighbors Mission to the east.

One of those officers, Alan Carrillo, pleaded not guilty this week to charges of theft and evidence tampering. He previously worked on the Foothill gang squad, whose other officers have in recent years been accused of violent tactics against protesters and at least one out-of-policy shooting of an unarmed man, according to court records and sources familiar with the Los Angeles Police Department’s ongoing investigation.

Carrillo, a six-year department veteran, is the first of several officers expected to be charged, according to one source who agreed to discuss the inner workings of the case on the condition of anonymity. The three sources familiar with the probe said LAPD investigators have spent months exploring the connection between the Mission and Foothill gang units.

Carrillo is accused of stealing personal items — including a knife with brass knuckles on the handle — from people during patrol stops in the Mission Division in April and June 2023. His attorney, Caleb Mason, said in an interview with The Times that his client was being charged for essentially “taking contraband away from a suspect,” who was a minor.


“The prosecution’s theory of the case is that he didn’t fill out the proper paperwork,” Mason said.

He said Carrillo’s case was one of several in which the district attorney’s office’s Justice Systems Integrity Division had overreached in its rush to make good on a campaign promise by District Attorney George Gascon to hold police accountable.

“When an officer encounters a teenager who’s in possession of contraband that he’s absolutely not allowed to have, whether it’s a marijuana vape or brass knuckles, you can’t have that. And you take it away from him, and that’s how good police work has been done for 150 years,” he said. “Frankly, I would hope any officer would take that action.”

Mason said he was handling only Carrillo’s criminal case, and could not comment on the department’s ongoing internal investigation.


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