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Julian Hernandez

Summary of Rampart Scandal
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Julian Hernandez was one of approximately 170 men and women wrongfully convicted based on misconduct by members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart division.

Police arrested Hernandez on December 3, 1997, and charged him with possession of heroin after they searched an apartment and found 11 bags of heroin. Hernandez pled guilty on February 11, 1998 to possession of a controlled substance and was placed on probation. Four months later, he was arrested again on a separate drug charge. This violated the terms of his probation, and he was sentenced on the original charge to a year in jail.

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 Rampart operations. Perez later pled guilty to civil-right violations involving a shooting that was also part of the Rampart scandal.

Perez began talking two days later. Over the next year, he met with investigators from the police department and the district attorney’s office 29 times and detailed alleged misconduct committed by himself and his fellow officers.

On December 20, 1999, Perez told investigators that he had falsified parts of Hernandez’s arrest report. He said that a confidential informant told officers about the presence of drugs in the apartment, but Hernandez never gave consent to have the apartment searched. Instead, Perez said, he and other officers just took the keys that they saw in Hernandez’s possession and went to the apartment without asking and without a search warrant.

“I mean, we were going to his apartment, you know, either way. He didn't give us permission. He didn't even – he didn't even tell us. I guess he figured, they, obviously, know I live here. Or they, obviously, know. Because we went straight to his apartment. We walked him up and just went right into the apartment.”

At a preliminary hearing on December 31, 1997, Officer Randy Canister testified that Hernandez had given permission to search his apartment.

Perez also told investigators that despite the illegal search, officers did find heroin in the apartment and that Hernandez said the drugs were his.

But in an interview with investigators, Hernandez said that wasn’t true. He denied possessing the heroin and said that the officers took him to an unfamiliar apartment and used the keys of a man named “Gerardo” to open the door. Hernandez denied living there or knowing anything about the heroin, but he said he pled guilty to avoid a prison sentence.

The District Attorney for Los Angeles County filed a petition for a writ of habeas corpus on January 31, 2000. It was granted the next day. The original possession charge against Hernandez was dismissed, but he remained in prison on a conviction on unrelated charges.

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. Hernandez was one of the plaintiffs. His settlement is not publicly available. A 2007 said the city had paid out $75 million in settlements, but more recent reports put the figure at closer to $125 million.

– Ken Otterbourg

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Posting Date: 9/20/2021
Last Updated: 9/20/2021
State:California
County:Los Angeles
Most Serious Crime:Drug Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1997
Convicted:1998
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