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COLUMN ONE : What Has Happened to the 'LAPD 44'? : Since the Christopher Commission singled out 'problem officers' in 1991, some have been fired, others promoted. A few have made the list a potent symbol of agency's woes.

October 15, 1995|ALAN ABRAHAMSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

"I would ask them where they are on the nights I wake up with recurring nightmares about police officers I know who have been killed, the nights I wake up reliving shootings I have been in and the days dealing with the physical pain I deal with every day."

Mason arrived on the force in 1972, a combat-decorated Vietnam War veteran. Over the next 18 years, he won a slew of awards, including the Medal of Valor, the department's highest award for bravery, for rescuing a woman and child from a burning Hollywood apartment in 1982.

He and Stacey C. Koon, who was convicted in federal court on charges stemming from the Rodney G. King beating, were once partners. Koon, Mason said, was "one of the best officers I ever worked with."

From 1982 to 1990, Mason was suspended without pay for a total of 75 days. In 1990, he was fired after a disciplinary board found him guilty of several charges, including the unprovoked beating of a 40-year-old man.

Mason said of his years as an officer: "I think I was psychologically more injured by the LAPD than I was in Vietnam. At least there [in Vietnam], I knew who the enemy was."

CRAIG D. LALLY

Once, Lally's career brimmed with promise and excitement. Now, he has gone to court, proclaiming that none of the complaints that got him on the list were sustained, and bitter that his own union did nothing to restore his reputation.

For most of his career, the 39-year-old Lally just seemed to have the knack. He was assigned to the elite Metropolitan Division and was promoted to sergeant.

When, in a haunting 911 call, Nicole Brown Simpson begged a dispatcher to send police to her townhouse on Gretna Green Way in October, 1993, it was Lally who responded.

When comedian John Belushi was found dead in 1982 of an overdose at the Chateau Marmont hotel on the Sunset Strip, Lally was one of the officers at the scene.

When the list of 44 came out, Lally was perplexed.

So he turned to the Police Protective League. He now contends that union lawyers created an attorney-client relationship and then breached it by failing to pursue legal action against the city, the LAPD or the Christopher Commission on behalf of those officers on the list. The union never filed any such lawsuit, general counsel Hank Hernandez said.

Lally's lawsuit, filed in Van Nuys Superior Court in March, 1994, seeks general damages of $3 million and punitive damages of $5 million. On Sept. 27, a judge whittled the case down but a rehearing is set for Nov. 6 and a trial for April 9.

Hernandez said Lally's lawsuit is "without merit," adding, "We have no affirmative duty of suing anybody on a police officer's behalf."

Currently assigned to the West Los Angeles station, Lally was eagerly looking forward to a transfer to the prestigious Internal Affairs bureau, particularly after a two-month stint there a few months back. But no transfer has been forthcoming--and, Lally sighed, probably never will be.

"What do you think would [be the reaction] if I was IA and investigating officers for excessive force and I'm on the list of 44? Gimme a break," Lally said.

He added that he has been turned down for promotion more than a dozen times since 1991.

"I'm not politically correct," he said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

(BullDog Edition, A25) Status Report

The Christopher Commission, in its examination of excessive force in the Los Angeles Police Department, compiled a list of 44 "problem officers" with six or more complaints of excessive force or improper tactics between 1986 and 1990. Neither the commission nor the LAPD has ever released the list, but The Times has obtained it. Here are the officers' names and their status or station assignment as of summer, 1995.

Name: Station

Abiel Barron: Detective Headquarters

Fernando O. Cardona: Hollenbeck

Stephen M. Carmona: Hollywood

Henry J. Cousine: Central

Joseph M. (Mike) Doherty: Air Support

John P. Edwards: Van Nuys

Michael A. Falvo: Hollenbeck

Jerry D. Fritz: North Hollywood

Jerry J. Greenfield: Southeast

Rigoberto Gutierrez**: Devonshire

James C. Hagerty: Metro

William B. Harkness: Personnel

Donald J. Jenks: Harbor

Steve V. Kolb: Burglary / Auto Theft

Craig D. Lally: West L.A.

Maurice L. Landrum: South Bureau Homicide

Richard C. Madison: Central Traffic

Sean B. McGee: Air Support

William Merchant: West L.A.

Joe L. Moore: Central

John A. Pasierbowicz: Traffic Coordination

Jimmy V. Provencio: Hollywood

Scott H. Shepherd: Commission Investigations

Andrew A. Teague*: Van Nuys

Pedro J. Ugarte: Van Nuys

Rudy V. Vidal: Newton

Benjamin Warren: Harbor

John D. Williams: West Bureau Narcotics

Richard M. Womack: Narcotics

Andrew Wunderlich: Officer Representation

Leslie C. Wyeth: Hollywood

****

NO LONGER WITH DEPARTMENT

Raymond A. Bennette: disability pension 6/17/93

Conrad Cota: resigned 7/2/95

Stephen C. Geon: service pension 4/2/94

Joel Herbst: resigned 8/15/89

Thomas J. Hickey: resigned 9/25/95

Taroo A. Mason: fired 7/12/90

John Mitchell: resigned 5/16/88

Leonard Mora: fired 1/29/90

Donald W. Murphy: service pension 3/26/95

Nick Savala: fired 12/19/88

Carl A. Sims: resigned 6/1/92

Juan M. Torres: disability pension 7/15/93

Michael S. Tosti: resigned 12/1/91

* Teague was suspended Sept. 1 by Chief Willie L. Williams, accused of falsifying evidence in a murder case.

** Gutierrez has applied for a disability pension. His claimed disability: "Psyche." A hearing is scheduled for Dec. 21.

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