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A $20.5 million settlement for four police officers who were prosecuted during the corruption probe of the Los Angeles Police Department's Rampart Division, and later had their convictions overturned, was approved last Thursday by the City Council. Paul Harper, Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy were awarded $5 million plus $1 each by a federal jury in February 2006. The three claimed civil rights violations based on false arrest and malicious prosecution.
The officers alleged that authorities tried to make them scapegoats in the wake of the police misconduct allegations raised by Officer Rafael Perez. Liddy, Harper and Ortiz were prosecuted for allegedly framing a gang member on the night of April 26, 1996. Jurors in their criminal trial acquitted the officers of framing the man.
Liddy, Ortiz and another officer, Michael Buchanan, were convicted in that trial of conspiring to obstruct justice, and Liddy and Ortiz were also found guilty of filing a false police report, while Buchanan was convicted of perjury.
Those convictions were later overturned by a judge, citing juror misconduct, and the District Attorney's Office lost a bid to reverse the ruling. Prosecutors did not proceed with the case. Neither representatives of the City Attorney's Office nor the Los Angeles Police Protective League were available for comment.