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Throwing the book at `Monster'

Kody Scott, whose gang autobiography sparked a literary career, lands on the LAPD's `most wanted' list. Friends say the fugitive's inclusion is unjustified.

February 15, 2007|Patrick McGreevy | Times Staff Writer

Those close to Kody Scott expected to see his name on a list of best-selling authors or film writers someday. So they didn't believe it last week when he landed in a more notorious lineup.

Fourteen years ago, Kody "Monster" Scott -- serving a state prison term on charges that included robbery and possession of an assault rifle -- became a minor literary star.

His autobiography about growing up in Los Angeles as a member of the Eight-Tray Crips sold more than 100,000 copies.

Last week, Scott turned in the manuscript for a novel that Atlantic Monthly Press has agreed to publish. And film director Antoine Fuqua, who made "Training Day" with Denzel Washington, was still working to bring his life to the big screen. Scott had seemingly turned himself around, converting to Islam and telling people he was rejecting his violent ways.

Then Scott's name and photo turned up in a place that shocked and saddened some who know him: He was included in the Los Angeles Police Department's new list of "Top 10 Most Wanted Gang Members."

Police said Scott -- whereabouts unknown -- was being sought for an alleged burglary. "Suspect assaulted victim (friend of suspect) after victim refused to loan vehicle to suspect," the wanted poster reads. "Suspect fled in victim's vehicle."

Sgt. Manny Santoyo of the 77th Street Division Gang Impact Team said the victim was not so much a friend of Scott as someone who knew him, and the crime was more of a carjacking than what is described in the public bulletin.

LAPD officials said the allegation, if proved in court, could be a potential third strike for Scott, which could result in another long jail sentence.

"He was just too involved in the culture of gangs; he couldn't get away," Santoyo said. "He chose that life."

Scott, who also is known as Sanyika Shakur, bragged in his autobiography that "I have pushed people violently out of existence.... I have shot numerous people and have been shot seven times myself."

But some who know or have met him insist that the 44-year-old fugitive is no longer a violent threat, and they question why police put a burglary suspect alongside gangsters that include seven suspects wanted for murder, one for attempted murder and one for federal narcotics charges.

"It's absolutely ridiculous to mention him on a top 10 list for burglary," said Alex Alonso, an academic who has studied gang territories in Los Angeles and who has met Scott.

"I can tell you that he does not gangbang any more and has not done so for many years," Alonso said.

James Harris, a former Crips member and gang intervention worker who talked to Scott two months ago in Hollywood, said Scott is trying to turn his life around but has been hampered by drugs.

Harris said the LAPD is not justified in putting him on the "most wanted" list.

"When I saw him he was trying to get a movie deal, which I think at the end of the day the police are trying to stop by putting him on this list. They are trying to stop him from becoming a bigger celebrity," Harris said.

Morgan Entrekin, Scott's editor at Atlantic, said he was surprised to hear of the listing in the same week Scott turned in a manuscript for a novel that his publishers were very excited about. The proposed book was also written by Scott while he was in prison, this time for violating parole. He was released Nov. 29.

"I'm shocked and saddened to hear this because he's a smart guy and a talented writer," Entrekin said.

Some, including activist Aqeela Sherrills, wonder whether Scott's inclusion on the list was prompted by Police Chief William J. Bratton. An alert issued by the LAPD more than a year ago warned that Scott had publicly threatened the chief, department officials said.

"I think it could be personal," said Sherrills, another acquaintance of Scott. "I think it's pretty strange that everyone else on the list is there for murder. It could be politics, because they want big names to show they are going after notorious gang members."

Sherrills said that because of drug problems Scott has been in and out of jail since publishing his first book, "Monster: The Autobiography of an L.A. Gang Member."

However, Deputy Police Chief Gary Brennan, whom the chief designated last week as the department gang coordinator, said Scott belongs on the list.

An arrest warrant issued Dec. 15 said that in allegedly taking the car, Scott injured the owner's eye socket and cheek. A second warrant, issued Feb. 1, said Scott failed to appear when subpoenaed as a material witness in a homicide case in the 77th Street area.

"He's an individual who is violent and deserves to be in jail," Brennan said.

Scott's autobiography, which was excerpted in Esquire magazine in 1993, follows a life of crime that began when he was a child growing up near Florence and Normandie in South L.A., the son of former football player Dick Bass, a running back with the Los Angeles Rams in the 1960s.

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