LOS ANGELES -- Three police officers found guilty of corruption in the worst scandal in department history had their convictions tossed out by a judge who said the courts shouldn't remedy the scandal with an unfair verdict.
In a ruling obtained by The Associated Press late Friday, Superior Court Judge Jacqueline Connor said jurors disclosed in post-trial statements that they had focused on an issue which was never raised in the trial.
Connor threw out the convictions of Los Angeles Police Department Sgts. Edward Ortiz and Brian Liddy, and Officer Michael Buchanan, who were convicted last month of conspiracy and other charges involving framing gang members.
"While recognizing the enormous pressure on the community, on the police force, on the district attorney's office, and on the courts to 'fix' the Rampart scandal, this court is only interested in evaluating the fairness of the proceedings and determining whether justice was done in this case," Connor said in her 18-page ruling.
The officers were the first members of the now-defunct Rampart station anti-gang unit to be tried on charges based on the allegations of ex-officer Rafael Perez, who said police beat, robbed, framed and sometimes shot innocent people in the city's tough Rampart neighborhood near downtown.
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