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Jail tape of The Game is called a foul

Times Staff Writer

An LAPD officer may face disciplinary action after internal affairs investigators determined he shot a video that appeared on the entertainment website TMZ.com showing the rapper The Game bragging with a wad of money inside his jail cell.

The probe is part of a larger effort by local law enforcement to break the pipeline between officers and other law enforcement officials and increasingly aggressive tabloids and celebrity news websites.

TMZ.com posted the video “The Game -- Still Pimpin in Custody” on May 12, the day after the LAPD arrested him at his Glendale home on suspicion of making criminal threats during a pickup basketball game in South Los Angeles.

LAPD Internal Affairs Cmdr. Jim Voge said an officer is the subject of an investigation for shooting the video, and the matter has been referred to his commanding officer for a disciplinary decision. Voge declined to identify the officer or provide further details, citing personnel rules.

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In a statement to The Times, Harvey Levin, managing editor of TMZ.com, said the firm does not comment on where it gets its material.

Law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, said the officer told investigators he gave the video, which was shot with a cellphone camera, to TMZ because he thought it would be fun. Investigators so far have no evidence that the officer was paid for the video clip, the two sources said, but they are still investigating.

LAPD Chief William J. Bratton and Los Angeles County Sheriff Lee Baca have said they want to clamp down on any officers cooperating with the celebrity journalism industry.

Baca’s department is continuing to investigate who leaked Mel Gibson’s DUI arrest report to TMZ.

“It is a complex and lengthy investigation, and it remains ongoing,” sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said. The report revealed that far from being an arrest without incident as the Sheriff’s Department initially indicated, Gibson was belligerent and made anti-Semitic remarks.

Sheriff’s officials also warned deputies against shooting photos of Paris Hilton while she was serving a jail sentence at a facility in Lynwood (no pictures of her time behind bars have yet surfaced, even though paparazzi firms said such images would be worth tens of thousands of dollars).

In The Game video probe, LAPD sources said images in the video made it easy to track down the officer involved.

In the video clip, the platinum-selling rapper -- whose real name is Jayceon Terrell Taylor, 27 -- throws hand signals in a holding cell. Shortly after the video appeared on the TMZ website, LAPD officials initiated an investigation into those in and around the 77th Street station on the day the rapper was arrested.

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Taylor has since been charged with making criminal threats, possession of a firearm in a school zone and exhibiting a firearm in the presence of an officer.

A onetime star basketball shooting guard at Compton High School, Taylor boasts in songs and videos of his past connection to the Cedar Block Piru Bloods gang.

In 2001, while dealing drugs, he was shot several times when a group of “clowns” broke into his house, Taylor told The Times in a November 2006 interview.

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richard.winton@latimes.com


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