A single Los Angeles Police Department officer has been sent to face an internal trial board after he was allegedly caught falsifying gang data about innocent citizens he stopped.
Chief Michel Moore said in a statement Friday the purpose of the internal trial, called a Board of Rights, would be "removal" of the officer, meaning termination.
Moore's first disciplinary actions in the case stem from a nearly year-long internal affairs probe into the actions of a group of officers assigned to the LAPD's Metropolitan Division, some of whom are suspected of turning in field interview cards that falsely labeled motorists and pedestrians as gang members, when, in fact, they were not. The investigation was first publicly reported by NBCLA Jan. 13.
At least 20 officers are under scrutiny, including 10 who were stripped of police powers and assigned to home, and 10 others who were removed from field duty but otherwise remained on duty.
Internal affairs detectives have spent weeks comparing the field interview cards and other reports submitted by the officers with body worn and other video recordings to look for inconsistencies.
"Countless times," Moore told the Board of Police Commissioners earlier this month, those video recordings had shown officers filed accurate information, "but we have also found inaccuracies," that the chief said were in conflict with the physical evidence, and other instances were the records and the video were still unclear.
The case could also lead to criminal charges, and already, evidence against one of the officers has been submitted to prosecutors for review. The LA County District Attorney's Office said Thursday no decision had been made in that case.
The Chief told the Board he was deeply concerned about the implications of officers falsifying any type of data.
"I believe the vast majority of the men and women of Metropolitan Division ... are professionals of the highest standard and moral character," Moore told members of the Los Angeles Police Commission. "However, I must look straight ahead at these allegations and judge them with a clear eye."
The false interview cards led to some individuals being added to law enforcement databases as identified gang members. Moore has said people's profiles have been removed from those files as a result of the investigation.
Multiple law enforcement sources said at the time the alleged false gang IDs were filed Metropolitan Division officers were being pressured by their commanders to show that their patrols were productive.
Officers assembled daily statistics about the number of people they stopped and questioned, the number of contacts with gang members, the number of arrests, and other metrics. Each day's statistics was captured for analysis by LAPD executives, and the sources said officers were told, the more gang contacts the better.