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The Game apologizes for tweeting Sheriff's Department number

The Game says a tweet that included the phone number of the Compton sheriff's station was 'a joke gone wrong,' and the Sheriff's Department says it won't pursue charges.

August 18, 2011|By Robert Faturechi and Andrew BlanksteinLos Angeles Times
  • The Game, pictured in June, issued an apology through CNN: "My sincerest apologies to the Sheriff's Department.... It was a joke gone wrong."
The Game, pictured in June, issued an apology through CNN: "My sincerest… (Jason Merritt / Getty Images )

It started with a tweet and ended with an apology.

Hours after The Game said he was sorry for an online post last week that included the Compton sheriff's station phone number and prompted hundreds of phony calls, Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department officials said Wednesday they would no longer pursue criminal charges against the rapper.

Capt. Mike Parker said the department decided against seeking prosecution because of a lack of evidence. But he called The Game's apology, made to CNN, "relevant and well-received."

"Based upon our investigation, as well as consultation with the Los Angeles County district attorney's office, the LASD [Sheriff's Department] considers the criminal investigation into this matter closed," Parker wrote in a statement.

On Friday evening, the Twitter feed for the Compton rapper sent out a message appearing to encourage his 580,000 followers to call the posted number for an internship. The tweet gave no indication that the phone number was in fact the official help line for the Sheriff's Department's Compton station. For almost three hours, the station's lines were jammed with hundreds of calls, blocking legitimate requests for help.

Many callers asked deputies for a "music internship." Others just hung up when they heard law enforcement on the line.

Initially sheriff's officials publicly said they would seek criminal charges and present a case to prosecutors. But legal experts doubted that the tweet could be proved to be criminal. They said prosecutors would have to show that the rapper sent the message himself, and intended to jam the station's lines.

While backing away from criminal charges, Parker said the Sheriff's Department is "working with legal experts to address what type of legislation may be considered to specifically address the new and ongoing media issues that may cause harm to public safety, while respecting … freedom of speech."

Law enforcement agencies in Los Angeles and beyond have faced a summer of social-media-driven mayhem, including a near-riot in Hollywood after a popular deejay tweeted about a concert. But it is unclear how much of the blame for damage caused by a mass of people can be linked to the original messenger.

"There are certain aspects [of the law] that have not quite caught up with the rapid pace of new media and all that it brings, which includes a lot of good as well as some rough edges," Parker said.

At first, The Game seemed less than contrite about the jammed lines at Compton station. He at one point criticized the Sheriff's Department for devoting resources to a Web post rather than to homicides.

On Wednesday though, he told CNN: "My sincerest apologies to the Sheriff's Department.... It was a joke gone wrong.

"I never intended for anybody to take it the wrong way or for it to go this far, and just, you know, I think it's all nonsense…. If my apology is not enough, I don't understand what else can be done."

The gangster rapper, who in the past has criticized "snitches," stressed to CNN that a friend sent the tweet.

Though the Sheriff's Department has officially closed the investigation into The Game's tweet, Parker left the door open for future action.

"If new facts were to come to light," he said, "it could change our stance."

robert.faturechi@latimes.com

andrew.blankstein@latimes.com

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