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Manuel Guardado

Summary of Rampart Scandal
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Manuel Guardado and Jose Madrid were two of approximately 170 men and women wrongfully convicted because of misconduct uncovered in an investigation into corruption at the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart division.

The men were arrested on May 25, 1997 after officers Rafael Perez and Nino Durden responded to a call about a man with a gun on West Eighth Street in the city’s Rampart district. The officers said in their report they saw two Hispanic males running away as they pulled up. They said they chased the men, caught them, and then arrested them. Guardado was charged with possession of cocaine base for sale; Madrid was charged with possession of a weapon by a felon.

Guardado pled guilty to his possession charge on June 9, 1997 and was given three years of probation. At a preliminary hearing for Madrid on June 10, 1997, Perez testified to the truthfulness of his arrest report. Madrid pled guilty on July 24, 1997 and was sentenced to 16 months in prison.

On August 17, 1998, Perez 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 Rampart operations.

In an interview with investigators on November 5, 1999, Perez said neither Madrid or Guardado had committed any crime. He said that although there had been a call about a man with a gun, the officers had found no weapons or contraband on Guardado or Madrid when they were detained. Instead, the officers had planted the drugs on Guardado and the weapon on Madrid.

In the interview, Perez didn’t say which officer planted the evidence, but he said that the weapon, which had no serial numbers, most likely came from Durden. “I don't remember when and where it was removed, but if it – the fact that it was removed, it had to be removed by Durden, because that was his little thing,” Perez said. “That I can remember, I don't think I removed a serial number.”

On January 25, 2000, Guardado’s conviction was vacated and his charge dismissed after the District Attorney for Los Angeles County filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus. Madrid’s charges were dismissed in a similar manner on March 13, 2000.

Along with his cocaine theft and related charges, Perez later pled guilty to federal civil rights and firearms violations resulting from a Rampart-related shooting and was sentenced to two years in prison. Durden pled guilty to state and federal charges related to that same shooting and received a five-year prison sentence.

Guardado and Madrid each filed civil-rights lawsuits against the officers, the Los Angeles Police Department and others. They settled for an undisclosed amount.

More than 200 lawsuits were filed against the city by persons wrongfully convicted because of the Rampart misconduct or those who claimed they had been falsely arrested. Almost all were settled. There is no public final accounting, although a report from 2007 said the city had paid out $75 million, and more recent reports put the figure at closer to $125 million.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 7/26/2021
Last Updated: 7/26/2021
State:California
County:Los Angeles
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1997
Convicted:1997
Exonerated:2000
Sentence:Probation
Race/Ethnicity:Hispanic
Sex:Male
Age at the date of reported crime:
Contributing Factors:Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No