Los Angeles police are investigating whether racist audio of council members was illegally recorded


Los Angeles police have launched a criminal investigation into a recording of an interview that contained racist comments that was leaked online, prompting the resignation of two officers involved, the police chief said.

The leaked audio, posted anonymously on Reddit and obtained by the Los Angeles Times earlier this month, details a year-long conversation between then-City Mayor Nury Martinez, council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León, and then-Los Angeles County. Ron Herrera, president of the Labor Federation.

Much of the conversation focused on the maps proposed by the city’s rezoning committee and council members’ frustration with them. But there were also racist remarks about a board member’s black son and about Oaxacans.

Martinez and Herrera resigned in the wake of the scandal, which rocked America’s second-largest city just weeks before the Nov. 8 election. Cedillo and de Leon apologized in statements, and have resisted calls to resign.

On Friday, Martinez, de León, Cedillo and Herrera filed a complaint at the police station, alleging that their private conversation was illegally recorded, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said in response to a reporter’s question on Tuesday.

“The department has initiated a criminal investigation into an allegation of wiretapping,” Moore said.

In California it is illegal to record a confidential communication without the consent of all parties involved.

Moore said the LAPD will “investigate how such a recording was made and, if possible, identify the person or persons responsible.”

No suspects have been identified, Moore added.

Investigators “will take the results of the investigation to the appropriate prosecuting agency,” Moore said.

The LAPD reported its investigation to the California Attorney General’s office and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office, as both offices are investigating the legality of the meeting itself, Moore said.

After the recording was leaked, state Attorney General Rob Bonta announced that his office is conducting an investigation into Los Angeles’ redistricting process.

Officials are on tape discussing the need to “ensure that Latino districts did not lose economic assets” in the once-a-decade redistricting process, according to the Times.

Bonta said that the process is “fundamental to our democracy”, and he said that “it must be free of charge”.

“It’s clear that an investigation is needed to restore the confidence of the people of LA in the rehabilitation process,” he said.

At last week’s meeting, the council voted to appoint Paul Krekorian as president. Members also voted unanimously to consider next steps to add a ballot measure to amend the city charter and create an independent redistricting commission.