This story has been updated, see bottom.
We’re not against the police. We’re not against the police department, but we are against police who commit misconduct (and those who help cover it up).
Does the Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck and the LAPD condone, support, and even cover up incidents of domestic violence? That’s the question being posed after finding out that Beck canceled a Board of Rights termination hearing for a police officer who was basically beating the living daylights out of his now ex-wife.
Ladies and gentlemen meet Alex Peraza (#35659). Peraza is no ordinary police officer. A veteran of 15 years, as a P3 (Police Officer 3), Peraza is the Department’s “poster boy” for recruitment. His picture is used on flyers, brochures, ads and the like and today he serves as the Department’s Military Liaison Officer.
But what the Department doesn’t want you to know is that before Peraza landed in the cushy position he now occupies, he was headed for a Board of Rights termination hearing in January of this year—that is until it was canceled.
It seems Peraza had a bad habit of drinking a little too much and then taking out his frustrations on his ex-wife in the physical sort of way. But Peraza didn’t limit his abuse to his ex-wife, no he made it a family affair and included his ex-wife’s elderly mother and sister.
A former Marine, Peraza was married for approximately 8 and half years before his wife eventually divorced him. During the last three of years of their marriage Peraza routinely hit,beat, choked, strangled, slapped, kicked, dragged, and verbally abused her. I’m told that he threatened her life on more than one occasion.
The ex-wife finally couldn’t take anymore and reported the abuse to her boss. A LAPD lieutenant immediately did an interview with the ex-wife.
In an August 8, 2012 Claremont police report Peraza admits to lunging towards his ex-wife and waving his gun around during an argument. That same police report was used to grant an Emergency Protective Order against Peraza.
I’m told that the case went to the Department’s Internal Affairs Division where interviews were done with the ex-wife’s sister, best friend, and Lieutenant Whitman of LAPD’s West Traffic Division. Whitman was a neighbor to the Peraza’s and was able to corroborate the ex-wife’s story because during one of the more brutal beatings she ran to his house for help.
In October of 2012 a permanent restraining order was granted to the ex-wife against Officer Peraza.
According to LAPD insiders, in November 2012 Officer Peraza sat in his car outside of his ex-wife’s job. She reported his presence to her boss who then gave the heads up to his Captain over at LAPD’s Recruitment Employment Division (RED).
Eventually the case was sent to the District Attorney’s office and the charges were assault with a firearm and domestic violence battery on a non-cohabiting spouse.
From what I’m told Peraza either had friends in high places or D.A. Madison was just having a bad day when she spoke with the victim. Pereza’s ex-wife, the victim, was asked by the D.A.’s office if she and her family were trying to get Officer Peraza fired. The victim was told that Peraza could lose his job. She was basically was discouraged from continuing on in the investigation.
At one point the D.A.’s office told Peraza’s ex-wife that there wasn’t sufficient evidence.
On the issue of evidence, Peraza’s ex-wife submitted photos of some of her bruises as well as torn clothing from the incident in question where she was pulled by her hair and her clothes by Officer Peraza. And even with the police report where Officer Peraza admitted to holding and waving his gun around during the argument not to mention the granting of the restraining order, the D.A.’s office still rejected the case.
Meanwhile back at Internal Affairs, Peraza’s ex-wife is told that the photos of her injuries aren’t needed and that there is enough evidence to bring Officer Peraza before a Board of Right termination hearing. Remember, they interviewed a neighbor who is also a cop, the wife’s sister, and best friend.
In December 2013 the ex-wife is told that a date for a Board of Rights hearing is set for January 28. There’s a mad dash by the ex-wife and the her family to get all of the evidence and testimony over to Internal Affairs just to make sure that they have everything they need to find him guilty. If you recall earlier in this story I told you how Internal Affairs declined some of the evidence because they felt that they already had enough—whatever that means.
Anyway, the evidence was delivered to a sergeant in Internal Affairs. That evidence included photos, witness testimony from the ex-wife’s mother and niece as well as damaging text messages from Officer Peraza to his ex-wife.
In addition, the ex-wife called Internal Affairs only to receive a call back from her divisional captain questioning whether she called IA. This divisional captain goes onto say that if she did call Internal Affairs to leave it alone and let it play out and that she was going to promote.
Oh did I forget to mention that Officer Peraza’s ex-wife is also a police officer with the LAPD?
So how does this story end?
Well the ex-wife does end up promoting to the rank of detective.
That Board of Rights termination hearing and all of that evidence as it turns out wasn’t needed after all. Why you ask? Because Chief Beck used what is known as a military endorsement to send the case from a Board of Rights to a settlement hearing where the rumor is Officer Peraza received a penalty of a five-day suspension for physically abusing his ex-wife, her mother and sister.
A military endorsement is a lifeline of sorts when you are about to face a Board of Rights. It gives the next level reviewer, basically anyone higher in rank in the disciplinary process, the option of canceling the BOR in lieu of a lesser punishment.
And for those naysayers who think I am making it all up, here’s the text message from an investigator in Inspector General Alex Bustamante’s Office to Officer Peraza’s ex-wife confirming Beck’s decision.
For the record, the end of that text message reads as follows exactly:
…bill of rights I can’t say what the findings were
Officer Peraza, who had been working under Chief Beck as his Military Liaison Officer ended up marrying the woman he was having an affair with in the Department, one Chief Beck’s daughter’s closest friends LAPD Officer Susan Torres. I’m told he was recently sent over to Olympic Station.
Meanwhile, the family of the ex-wife has filed a complaint with the Inspector General because they were victims of his abuse as well and are none too please with the outcome of this case. I’m told that they did this only after they were convinced not to go to the media by the ex-wife who had faith in the Department, Chief Beck, and the system to do the right thing by her and her family. They are asking for the case to be re-opened, an end to the Department’s unfair disciplinary process and overall justice for people Peraza’s innocent victims.
In addition, all of this is being or has been sent over to the Police Commission for review.
According to a 2005 report Batterers with Badges: Officer-Involved Domestic Violence, of the 91 cases of alleged OIDV investigated by the Los Angles Police Department and sustained between 1990 and 1997, “only 4 resulted in a criminal conviction.” One of those four officers “was suspended for only 15 days” and the conviction of another was expunged. On the other hand, 26 of the 91 officers “were promoted, including 6 employees who promoted within 2 years of the … incident.”
An in-depth investigation of the Department conducted by the Office of the Inspector General concluded that the discipline imposed on officers found guilty of domestic violence “was exceedingly light when the facts of each incident were examined”
I’d like to get my hands on more recent numbers involving OIDV investigated by the Los Angeles Police Department (hint hint), but we’ll work with what we have.
I’ll leave you with this quote from an article in the Daily News featuring Chief Beck and then mayor Antonio Villaraigosa:
The LAPD gets about 48,000 domestic violence calls per year. The department investigates about 20,000 as actual crimes, according to Beck, who called domestic violence a “crime against society.”
UPDATED Thursday, August 14, 2014 4:12 p.m. to include screenshot of text message from Officer Alex Peraza to someone close to the situation between him and his ex-wife. The text message was sent after one of the domestic violence incidents mentioned above.