Rafael Pérez (police officer)
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August 22, 1967 |
Humacao, Puerto Rico
|Other names||Ray Lopez|
|Department||Los Angeles Police Department|
|Allegiance||State of California|
|Country||United States of America|
|Years of service||1989–1998|
|Rank||Sworn in as an officer (1989)
Police Officer 3 (1994)
|Other work||Convicted in connection to the LAPD Rampart Scandal (plea bargain), government witness|
Ray Lopez (born Rafael Antonio Pérez; August 22, 1967) is a former Los Angeles Police Department C.R.A.S.H. officer and the central figure in the LAPD Rampart Scandal, shot and framed Javier Ovando, and stole and resold at least $800,000 of cocaine from LAPD evidence lockers. He is accused of being a member of the Bloods, a notorious Los Angeles gang, and murdering rapper The Notorious B.I.G. at the behest of Suge Knight of Death Row Records. When Pérez was finally arrested, he implicated 70 other Rampart Division officers in various forms of misconduct, ranging from bad shootings to consuming alcohol while on duty. At least 106 LAPD arrests were overturned based on Pérez's testimony.
- 1 Private Life
- 2 Career
- 3 Criminal charges
- 4 Questions of credibility
- 5 Ongoing investigation into the murder of The Notorious B.I.G.
- 6 In popular culture
- 7 References
Pérez graduated from high school in 1985 and enlisted in the United States Marine Corps. He was hired by the LAPD after leaving the military in 1989. Prior to this, he had been a reject and passed over for hiring by background investigators from several other departments in Southern California. He also looked and acted in a "gang like" manner. He married Lorri Charles in August 9, 1985. In 1988 they moved to Los Angeles. The couple split up in 1989 after Lorri discovered that Rafael cheated on her with another marine. He lived alone in 1992 in Chino Hills. The two officially divorced in 1993 when he married his second wife, LAPD dispatcher Denise Aubry. In 1998 the two settled in Los Angeles.
After serving on routine patrol duties, Pérez was transferred to a narcotics unit in 1992. In 1995 he was transferred to Rampart Division and assigned to CRASH, an anti-gang unit given a long leash by the LAPD. Pérez gained a reputation as a tough and effective officer, valued for his fluency in Spanish and his knowledge of L.A.'s gangs.
On August 25, 1998, Pérez, then at age 31 and a nine-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, was arrested for stealing six pounds of cocaine from a department property room. (The theft was originally suspected to be an attempt at framing Frank Lyga in retaliation for the shooting of Pérez's friend, Kevin Gaines.) The cocaine was estimated to be worth $800,000 on the street. In December 1998 his trial ended on mistrial, to avoid a second trial and the conviction of his second wife, that according to authorities maybe might know about Perez's illegal activities, on September 8, 1999 he cut a deal with the authorities revealing the Rampart scandal in exchange for immunity for his misconduct.
In February 2000, Pérez was sentenced to five years in prison for stealing 8 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".
July 24, 2001 release
On July 24, 2001, due to his plea bargain Pérez was released from prison and placed on parole.
December 17, 2001 – Federal Charges
Pérez pleaded guilty to new charges resulting from the shooting of Javier Ovando. He was charged with conspiracy to violate Ovando's civil rights, and possessing a firearm with an obliterated serial number. He was sentenced on March 2002 to serve 5 years in federal prison. He was released on July 2004 and placed on parole.
October 31, 2006 felony count
On October 31, 2006, Pérez pleaded no contest to a felony count of perjury before the Torrance Superior Court.
Pérez, who legally changed his name to Ray Lopez, was arrested in July by Department of Motor Vehicles investigators while visiting his federal parole officer in Inglewood. Pérez pleaded no contest to lying in his application for a California driver's license on June 30, 2005.
Pérez was sentenced to an additional three years probation and 300 hours of community service. After his release from prison he settled with his family in Inglewood. Then in 2006 he had a second divorce from Denise. He then moved and lived in many cities like Redondo Beach and San Diego and had a series of different jobs. He currently lives in Chino Hills and, as of May 2015, is reported to work as a limo driver. He was seen driving for producer Harvey Weinstein.
Questions of credibility
The credibility of Perez has been undermined by his testimony in several internal affairs investigations in which three officers, including Brian Liddy, accused of crimes or misconduct were found not guilty or the charges were dropped. He has failed several lie-detector tests and has made several errors in his testimony in the past. The issue of Perez's credibility has already led to at least 5 cases of either dropped charges or acquittal.
Ongoing investigation into the murder of The Notorious B.I.G.
On April 16, 2007 relatives of rapper Christopher Wallace, who was known as The Notorious B.I.G., filed a wrongful death suit against the city of Los Angeles, former LAPD Officer Rafael Pérez and his partner former Officer Nino Durden, seeking unspecified general, compensatory and punitive monetary damages. The lawsuit was filed in the Los Angeles Superior Court by Wallace's mother, his widow Faith Evans, and his two children.
The lawsuit states that Pérez, Nino Durden, their partner former Officer David Mack, and "certain unknown persons" were responsible for the death of Christopher Wallace. The rapper was shot to death on March 9, 1997, as he and Sean Combs left the 11th Annual Soul Train Music Awards after-party held at the Petersen Automotive Museum on Wilshire Boulevard in Los Angeles. The lawsuit states the killing was committed "in a very efficient, organized and professional manner, suggesting that a high degree of coordination and planning preceded his murder." It further states that Pérez admitted to the LAPD that he and David Mack "conspired to murder, and participated in the murder of Christopher Wallace." Both Pérez and Nino Durden were on duty during the night of March 9,.
Wallace's murder is believed to have been in retaliation for the murder of Tupac Shakur. Tupac Shakur was a member of Death Row Records, run by Marion "Suge" Knight. Knight is known to have hired off-duty Rampart cops for security such as Kevin Gaines, who was shot to death by fellow LAPD officer Frank Lyga on March 18, 1997. Knight, who grew up in Compton, is well known for his ties to the Bloods. Following his arrest, detectives found several photos of Rafael Pérez flashing Blood gang signs. The connection between Pérez and the murder of Christopher Wallace has long been a source of speculation by the LAPD.
The current wrongful death lawsuit states that Pérez was a member of "a violent street gang associated with Death Row Records, and that he was partly responsible for Wallace's death."
In popular culture
- In the 2001 film Training Day, Denzel Washington said he emulated the style of Rafael Perez to give his character Alonzo a more authentic aspect. Also, the character's vehicle has the license plate ORP 967, which is said to stand for Officer Rafael Perez, born in 1967.
- The television series The Shield is based on the Los Angeles Rampart scandal, and the show's main character, Officer Vic Mackey, is based heavily on Rafael Perez.
- Samuel L. Jackson's character in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas, Frank Tenpenny, is based on Rafael Perez.
- "CNN.com". Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- "Notorious B.I.G.'s Family files suit against Los Angeles". Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- "PBS Rampart Scandal Timeline". Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- "Truth in Justice". Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- http://www.policemag.com/blog/gangs/story/2012/02/movie-review-rampart.aspx. Missing or empty
- "2006 Felony". Archived from the original on October 20, 2007. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- "Perez errors". Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- Rosenzweig, David (August 7, 2005). "3 Sue over Rampart Scandal". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 2008-08-04.
- Murray Pomerance (2012-02-01). Bad: Infamy, Darkness, Evil and Slime on Screen. SUNY Press.
- Jonathan Markovitz (2011-10-14). Racial Spectacles:Explorations in Media, Race and Justice. Taylor & Francis.