Los Angeles Is Likely to Reappoint Chief Moore: A Brief List of Scandals
The Police Commission will discuss a second term as Chief of LAPD. Here’s a list of controversies and scandals Moore and the LAPD have faced.
On December 20, 2022, LAPD Chief Michel Moore formally expressed interest in seeking a second five-year-term as chief. Moore has said he does not expect to complete the full term. The vote is now deferred, and the Los Angeles Board of Police Commissioners met on January 10, partially for a discussion on Moore’s reappointment. The City Council can act to veto the decision the commission eventually makes.
In a letter to police commissioners, Moore said that he’d like to continue his work over the last four years, stating that the department had accomplished “significant reforms, enhanced training, and expanded training and accountability.” Reviews of Moore’s term have been mixed. Some have called for Moore to resign throughout his tenure, and others have consistently been in support of his work as chief.
Members of the police commission, all currently appointed by previous Mayor Garcetti, must vote on Moore’s hiring, and originally had announced they would do so on January 10. Moore’s term ends in June, and many argued the vote would have been far too soon. Two commissioners have stated they will vote to confirm, and Moore would need three votes out of the five commissioners.
During the commission meeting, Moore discussed three deaths caused by police activity this year. Officers fatally shot two men in the first week of 2023 and both occurred during responses to mental health crises.
Takar Smith was shot by LAPD officers in his apartment while Smith was experiencing a mental health episode. He was holding a knife above his head; even Chief Moore conceded the event was “troubling,” and stressed that officers must be retrained. Oscar León suffered from depression and was shot by LAPD officers. Keenan Anderson died in the hospital after LAPD officers detained him using “TASER, bodyweight, firm grips, and joint locks to overcome his resistance.” Video released by the department later showed Anderson being tased repeatedly, and at one point he yells “they’re trying to George Floyd me.”
When asked at a press conference whether the deaths should discount him from a reappointment, Moore replied “I welcome [critics’] consideration and understanding of that.”
All three events are being questioned by activists. All law enforcement agencies who use deadly force must release videos of an incident within 45 days, but LAPD usually waits several months. LAPD released video of all three events one day after the commission has the discussion on his reappointment. LAPD also discussed the three deaths during the police commission meeting.
Chief Moore Has Shot Two People
Moore has shot two people in his life. The first, in 1986, was a nonfatal shooting while working as an LAPD officer. According to a report from then-Chief Gates, a man was pointing a handgun at truck drivers and then turned the handgun on Moore. The shooting was found to be in policy.
The second shooting happened just a year later, while Moore was working as a security guard. A man fired a semiautomatic handgun in a parking lot at his ex-wife and killed her. Moore killed the man with a shot to the head.
$1.27 Million Taken in City Funds via a Controversial Program
Through the DROP program, Michel Moore was able to receive a controversial $1.27 million windfall. Chiefs are meant to be exempt from DROP, which was intended as a program to give retiring officers and firefighters pensions in the last five years of their jobs. Despite that, Moore was able to come back to the LAPD with a promotion to chief of operations after just a few weeks of retirement using a “bounce,” a provision in the program which allows the chief of police to bring back a specialized officer for up to a year.
In this case, that chief of police was former Chief Charles Lloyd Beck, who retired just several months later. Moore claimed to the Los Angeles Times that he did not know he would become chief, and that “you may call [the timing of the payment and retirement] suspicious timing, but I didn’t program it that way.”
A False Arrest in France
While in Marseilles on a business trip meeting with French security officials ahead of the 2028 Olympic Summer Games, an LAPD security detail detained a man. The man was falsely accused of stealing the cell phone of an assistant chief’s wife. A search revealed that the man did not have possession of the cell phone or any other stolen material.
Moore was not present during the detention, but was present during the incident where the woman falsely claimed her cell phone had been stolen. Due to the security detail detaining a person outside of their jurisdiction, both the Consulate and French authorities were notified of the incident and an internal LAPD investigation was launched.
LAPD Senior Lead Officers Called for Violence in an Anti-Unhoused Facebook Group
Several officers in the West Valley division participated in a Facebook group called Crimebusters of West Hills and Woodland Hills. Senior Lead Officers Sean Dinse and Daryl Scoggins participated in the group, and retired SLO Brent Rygh continued to be an administrator until 2019.
While the group purported to be an online neighborhood watch, it featured numerous instances of threats of violence. Screenshots from public records transparency activist Adrian Riskin show suggestions of lynching and forcing car exhaust into the sleeping areas of an unhoused person. A member of the group suggested using a TASER and detaining a person, to which officer Daryl Scoggins replied, “we cant control what happens before we get there,” followed by laughing emojis.
Eventually officers were told to stop posting on the page after homeless advocacy groups sent a letter to both the LAPD and the California attorney general, prompting an internal review. Later, the officers were allowed to continue posting on the page after LAPD claimed that the harsh language had stopped.
When Riskin and activist group Ktown for All posted screenshots of the violent threats, Valley News Group and Knock LA released articles. The officers still working for the department were forced to end their involvement in the group. Multiple people critical of the group were intimidated and members of the group even threatened a journalist. Later, proponents of the group had tense exchanges with Moore at an LAPD town hall.
27th Street Houses Destroyed by a Botched Fireworks Disposal
A city block was in shambles after LAPD bomb technicians grossly miscalculated the weight of a large cache of illegal fireworks, and a containment vehicle was unable to contain the large explosion. Two died afterwards, seven were injured, and 75 people were temporarily displaced. At least 40 people moved away from their homes permanently, according to the Los Angeles Times. When returning to their homes, many residents found them uninhabitable.
Much of LAPD’s public response blamed Arturo Ceja, the man who had possession of the fireworks, for the blast. An after-action report outlined multiple failures. The bungle led to at least $6.5 million in direct relief from the city. Currently, LAPD has not released any public information on whether any of the officers responsible for the bombing were disciplined.
Fatal Shooting of Valentina Orellana Peralta and Daniel Elena Lopez
On December 23, 2021, officer William Dorsey Jones Jr. fatally shot Valentina Orellana Peralta and Daniel Elena Lopez in a North Hollywood Burlington Coat Factory. Elena Lopez had assaulted several people inside and nearby the store. Jones responded, shooting Elena Lopez several times with a high-powered rifle. One bullet hit 14-year-old Orellana Peralta, who had been hiding alongside her mother in a dressing room behind Elena Lopez.
Though Jones claimed he was not aware the wall behind Elena Lopez contained a dressing room, several of his shots were found to be out of policy. Moore recommended that all shots be considered out of policy, but the police commission ruled the first of the three rounds to be within policy. Several other officers were given tactical debriefs. Sergeant Case, the highest-ranked officer during the incident, was given administrative disapproval. No formal discipline has been announced as of writing.
Leimert Park Air Force Veteran Shot from Police Cruiser
Jermaine Petit, a USAF veteran, was shot by several officers while holding an automotive part. The first officer, Sergeant Brett Hayhoe, fired at least one round from the driver’s seat of a moving police cruiser. Another officer, the son of LAPD’s police union Vice President Jerretta Sandoz, fired upon Petit moments after he stated they did not believe Petit was armed with a gun.
A bizarre “town hall” Zoom meeting weeks later was held with members of the Leimert Park community, and it ended abruptly when LAPD Captain Rudy Lopez and Deputy Chief Gerald Woodyard left the Zoom. Participants voiced frustration that LAPD wasn’t answering their questions.
Captain Lillian Carranza’s Sexual Harassment Lawsuit
LAPD, along with many other large city police departments, has had numerous sexual harassment claims against it over the last several years. Captain Lillian Carranza was awarded $4 million after a photoshopped picture of her face on a nude body was circulated within LAPD. Moore opted not to send a department-wide message about it despite Carranza’s request for him to do so.
Violent Sweep of Echo Park
After the forced removal of an encampment in Echo Park Lake, LAPD’s response to protests against the eviction was widely criticized. 179 people were arrested, including journalists. Reporter Isaac Scher alleged his arm was broken by baton strikes at a demonstration. Two journalists were hit by less-lethal weapons during LAPD’s response to the protests.
Disclosure: The author was arrested while covering the Echo Park Lake protests, as were two other journalists from Knock LA.
Controversies Surrounding the George Floyd Protests
In the wake of the 2020 murder of George Floyd by police officer Derek Chauvin, both Moore and the LAPD were embroiled in multiple controversies.
LAPD’s response to protests was criticized widely, particularly the department’s actions in the Fairfax District. A large-scale protest became raucous: police vehicles were set aflame; buildings, including a synagogue, were tagged with graffiti. Police response was intense, and more than five hundred people were arrested.
LAPD’s tactics were scrutinized on multiple fronts, including that they demonstrated aggression toward unarmed and peaceful protesters, while actual looters seemed to be acting with impunity due to the focus on the behavior of protesters. Many protesters were hurt with less-lethal bullets. A lawsuit from BLM-LA later revealed that most of the officers using force were not disciplined.
Days after protests began in Los Angeles, Moore sat in silence for nearly eight hours of public comment. The Zoom meeting had more participants than the system allowed, and maxed out at 500 participants. Nearly every single caller voiced negative comments, spawning several memes. Jeremy Frisch’s two-minute comment call ending with “I yield my time, fuck you,” went viral and gave rise to multiple remixes and articles. Use of force at protests continues to be a lightning rod for criticism against LAPD.
Moore blamed protesters for Floyd’s death when he stated that “we didn’t have people mourning the death of this man, George Floyd, we had people capitalizing. His death is on their hands as much as it is those officers.” He then apologized minutes later, claiming he “misspoke when I said his blood is on their hands.”
In February 2021, a photo of a Valentine’s Day card featuring George Floyd with the phrase “you take my breath away” was shared by at least one officer in the Hollenbeck division. That officer has retired and as such faced no discipline.
Field Interview Cards
The way that LAPD utilizes field interview cards has come under fire for several reasons. Field interview cards document questions officers ask people they come across, and are put into an LAPD database as well as a statewide gang database called CalGang.
Three LAPD officers were charged after claims they’d misidentified and falsified records which said the people they stopped were gang members. Those charges were later dropped. NBC’s I-Team reported that more than a dozen officers were under investigation for allegedly false gang reports.
A lawsuit alleged that one LAPD commander had the Metro division conduct as many stops of gang members as possible. Metro had completed more field interview cards in 2020 than any other division.
As the deadline for a decision on Moore approaches (the commission has until the end of March), activists will likely focus on Moore and LAPD’s controversies. Moore sent an email claiming he’d discussed his decision to request a second term and that he has Mayor Bass’ “full support,” though Moore later backtracked.
With Commissioner Soboroff claiming that “there’s no better chief in the US,” and Commissioner Briggs claiming that LA would “greatly benefit from [Moore’s] continued stewardship of a critical component of public safety,” it seems as though two commissioners are nearly guaranteed to vote for reappointment. If Moore is voted in, it’s likely these controversies will continue to mar his tenure.