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LAPD officer resigns after being accused of tapping database on killer's behalf

Rookie sought information on key witnesses in the trial of a man whose sister he was dating, court documents say. Prosecutors will decide whether to file charges after an investigation is completed.

November 14, 2010|By Joel Rubin and Jessica Porter, Los Angeles Times

Paul M. Weber, president of the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents the LAPD's rank-and-file officers, came down hard on Morales regarding the allegations. "Any police officer accessing confidential law enforcement databases to help a gang member gather information on witnesses in a murder trial is a disgrace to the LAPD badge," he said.

Morales is not the first officer accused of abusing the department's internal databases. In 2008, former LAPD Sgt. Mark Arneson was convicted of illegally accessing law enforcement databases to help disgraced private investigator Anthony Pellicano gather information on people, among other charges. In another well-publicized case, Sgt. Kelly Chrisman was accused in 2000 of using LAPD databases to look up information on celebrities. Chrisman was fired by the department but is fighting a legal battle to be reinstated.

LAPD officials did not respond to a request for the number of cases in recent years involving database abuse allegations. A review of LAPD discipline files from the mid-1990s, however, found at least 70 such cases.

In allegedly trying to help Turner, Morales failed to heed a warning that instructors at the LAPD's training academy attempt to grind into recruits studying to become officers.

"You have to think long and hard about the consequences of your actions," an academy instructor told a recent class. "Think about what you have to lose. Anything that has the potential to cause nonsense in your life, eliminate it. Eliminate it. If there is someone in your life who's on the wrong side of the law, drop them."

Jessica Porter is special correspondent to the Times.

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