News & Politics

LAPD Officers Sold Guns to Civilians and Gun Dealers, Threatened Whistleblower Who Exposed the Scheme

A Los Angeles police officer alleged in court that members of the Los Angeles Police Department bought and sold guns for profit.

Photo Credit: Flikr/JBrazito

A Los Angeles police officer has alleged in court that members of the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) bought and sold guns for profit--including to civilians, according to a report in the Courthouse News Service. The police officer, Armando Perez, was told to “watch his back” after he investigated and reported his suspicions. Perez is now suing the city of Los Angeles and the LAPD and is seeking lost wages, compensation for “physical and emotional injuries” and court costs.

The episode dates back to 2010. Perez audited the LAPD’s Metropolitan Division and discovered that LAPD officers were buying special firearms made by the highly-regarded Kimber gun manufacturing company, and were reselling the guns for high profits to other officers as well as civilians and gun dealers. The scandal also allegedly involves other companies who were in on the scheme. According to the complaint filed by Perez, “the officers, unbeknownst to Kimber (the manufacturer), were allowing Cinema Weaponry to purchase these pistols at discounted price, and were allowing Lucas Ranch Gun Sales to facilitate the transfer of the pistols from Kimber to the officers.” An August 2012Los Angeles Times report adds that “Kimber sold the guns, which bore a special ‘LAPD SWAT’ insignia, to members of the unit for about $600 each — a steep discount.”

The LA Times story centered around an LAPD report on the allegations. The report says if the allegations are true, the officer’s actions may have violated federal firearms laws and ethics regulations. The LAPD report that was released in August 2012 was part of an ongoing inquiry into Perez’s allegations, and was the second time the department looked into them. The first investigation was called “deficient” by Inspector General Alex Bustamante.

According to the Courthouse News Service, Perez reported his suspicions to Captain John Incontro. Incontro wanted to fix the matter “in house” and wanted his name to be taken off the list of gun buyers. Perez also reported on what he called an “inappropriate relationship” between a “subordinate and commanding officer,” and after that was aired, Incontro turned the investigation over to the LAPD’S Internal Affairs Group.

But internal affairs determined that there was no misconduct, though they did not interview Perez. After that, the retaliation began, according to the complaint. The retaliation grew in intensity after the Los Angeles Times reported on the story. Perez “was ostracized, his reputation damaged, and [was] told to 'watch his back,' among other retaliatory acts. Since reporting the illegal gun deals, Perez says, he has endured veiled threats, ostracism and his job responsibilities have been systematically removed in an attempt to force him to leave Metro,” the Courthouse News Service reports.

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Alex Kane is former World editor at AlterNet. His work has appeared in Mondoweiss, Salon, VICE, the Los Angeles Review of Books and more. Follow him on Twitter @alexbkane.