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Enrique Mena

Summary of Rampart Scandal
Enrique Mena and Alfredo Gomez were two of approximately 170 men and women wrongfully convicted because of misconduct uncovered in an investigation into the Los Angeles Police Department’s Rampart scandal.

Gomez, then 24 years old, and Mena, then 29 years old, were arrested together on July 8, 1997. Gomez was charged with being an active gang member in possession of a gun. Mena was charged that day with possession of a firearm by a felon.

Officers said Mena gave a written statement where he admitted to being a gang member and carrying a weapon.

Gomez pled guilty on November 25, 1997, was sentenced to 16 months in prison, and was then released on parole. Mena pled guilty November 6, 1997, and was sentenced to three 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 Rampart operations.

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 that both he and his fellow officers committed.

Investigators questioned Perez on November 5, 1999 and February 23, 2000 about this case. He said on November 5 that the arrest report by Cohan seemed fishy, because of the manner in which the weapons seized were disbursed among the defendants. “On a lot of these arrests, you'll see that, you know, a lot of guns were recovered," he said. "And there's always four guns and four bodies along with it, which, most of the time, is fabricated.” He repeated that opinion in his February interview. Each time, he said he had no proof; it was just based on his knowledge about how things were done at the Rampart station.

On April 28, 2000, the District Attorney for Los Angeles County filed a petition for writs of habeas corpus on behalf of Gomez and Mena. The petition said the DA’s office no longer had confidence in the convictions. It noted Perez’s belief that the arrest report had been fabricated. In addition, investigators interviewed Gomez, who denied having a gun at the time of his arrest. Gomez also said that Cohan had dictated his written statement, and that nothing in it was true. Both petitions were granted on May 4, 2000.

Cohan was later fired and pled guilty to obstruction of justice and filing a false report in the 1996 beating of a gang member.

Gomez and Mena were two of more than 200 defendants who filed suit against the police department and its officers. Mena received $175,000. Gomez received $100,000. 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: 4/12/2021
Last Updated: 2/2/2022
County:Los Angeles
Most Serious Crime:Weapon Possession or Sale
Additional Convictions:
Reported Crime Date:1997
Sentence:3 years
Age at the date of reported crime:29
Contributing Factors:False Confession, Perjury or False Accusation, Official Misconduct
Did DNA evidence contribute to the exoneration?:No