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Delbert Carrillo

Summary of Rampart Scandal
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Delbert Carrillo was one of approximately 170 men and women wrongfully convicted because of misconduct uncovered in the investigation of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart scandal.

Officers Ethan Cohan and Edward Brehm arrested Carrillo, who was 21 years old, at around 9:30 p.m. on June 9, 1998, and charged him with possession of cocaine. In a report filed with the arrest, Cohan said that he and Brehm were out patrolling when Carrillo contacted them and said he wanted to meet with the officers.

Cohan’s report said they met in a parking lot on Wilshire Boulevard and that the officers noticed a bulge in Carrillo’s front pocket. When they asked him to remove the material, Carrillo pulled out nine paper packages containing crack cocaine. Later, at the police station, Cohan said, Carrillo signed a statement that said he had contacted the officers to discuss a matter and thought it wouldn’t be a problem to possess cocaine during the meeting because he knew the officers.

Carrillo pled guilty on June 15, 1998 to possession of cocaine and was sentenced to two years in prison.

On August 17, 1998, Officer Rafael Perez of the Los Angeles Police Department was charged with theft, possession of cocaine, and forgery. The jury deadlocked at his trial (with a majority voting for conviction) in December 1998. Police investigated further, and additional charges were filed against Perez.

Just before his retrial on September 8, 1999, Perez pled guilty to eight drug charges and struck a deal with prosecutors. In exchange for a sentence of no more than five years in prison, he would cooperate with an investigation into the operations of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart Division.

Perez alleged misconduct by numerous Rampart officers, including Cohan and Brehm. One of the incidents with Cohan involved a suspected gang member who was beaten at the Rampart substation and began vomiting blood. He reported the incident, and Cohan was later fired for his role in failing to obtain treatment for the man or report the misconduct to a supervisor.

Carrillo filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on September 8, 2000. He said he was arrested after Cohan and Brehm spotted him riding in a cab on June 9, 1998. The officers pulled the cab over, made Carrillo get out and then patted him down. They didn’t find any drugs or weapons but still placed Carrillo in handcuffs and put him in the back of the police car. They stopped at a parking lot and the officers said that they would let Carrillo go if he helped them get some guns. Carrillo said they had to let him go; he hadn’t done anything and wasn’t holding any drugs. The officers said he was, and that nobody would believe him. Carrillo said, “I remained quiet because that’s when it hit me, he’s right. Who would believe me over these police officers?” At the Rampart station, he signed a confession to possessing the drugs.

The district attorney’s office reinvestigated and supported Carrillo’s petition, which was granted on November 14, 2000, and his charge was dismissed that day. He was already out on parole at the time. Later, he was one of numerous defendants who filed wrongful convictions lawsuits against Los Angeles, its police department and officers. He settled for an undisclosed sum.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 12/11/2020
Last Updated: 12/11/2020
State:California
County:Los Angeles
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1998
Convicted:1998
Exonerated:2000
Sentence:2 years
Race/Ethnicity:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:21
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No