LAPD officer from scandal-plagued gang unit is charged with thefts of brass knuckles, knives

Los Angeles Police Department headquarters
LAPD headquarters at 1st and Spring streets in downtown Los Angeles.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles police officer was charged Thursday with stealing brass knuckles and other weapons and tampering with evidence during enforcement stops carried out by a scandal-plagued gang unit, prosecutors said.

The officer, Alan Carrillo, has been charged with two counts of altering, planting or concealing evidence as a peace officer and three counts of petty theft, according to a news release from the office of Los Angeles County Dist. Atty. George Gascón.

Carrillo was previously a member of the Mission Division Gang Enforcement Detail, which came under suspicion last year for a range of misconduct, including unlawful traffic stops in which items were taken from motorists.


Carrillo, 32, is being held on $100,000 bond; an arraignment date has not yet been set. It is unclear whether he had retained an attorney.

Interim LAPD Chief Dominic Choi said he was “disappointed” by the allegations against Carrillo, who he said has been relieved of duty. “If these allegations are supported and are true, it’s absolutely not tolerated,” Choi said in a phone interview. “This type of behavior is where the public complains about and we lose public trust.”

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In the meantime, he said, the department would continue cooperating with the D.A.’s office.

Carrillo is the first of several Mission gang unit members expected to be charged in connection with the still-unfolding investigation, according to a source who requested anonymity to discuss cases that remain open.

Prosecutors allege the misconduct by Carrillo occurred between April and June of 2023 — after the onset of an internal affairs investigation into the gang unit over officers turning off their body-worn cameras. The LAPD has said the FBI is also investigating for potential constitutional violations.

“The public’s trust and the integrity of law enforcement are undermined when officers tamper with evidence and steal items from the public,” Gascón said in the news release. “Police officers are entrusted with upholding justice and protecting our communities, and any breach of that trust is unacceptable.”


According to prosecutors, Carrillo stole personal items, including brass knuckles and knives, from people he detained in a series of pedestrian and traffic stops on April 19 and June 15, 2023.

“Carrillo was allegedly inconsistent while documenting these items in his reports, and the taken items were never accounted for,” the news release said.

Law enforcement sources who requested anonymity to discuss the ongoing investigation previously detailed a similar incident to The Times, in which an officer allegedly drew a gun on a person who had been stopped and took the person’s property. One source described the item as a knife with brass knuckles on the handle.

Prosecutors have debated, the sources said, about whether to charge the officer with robbery, which is defined as as the taking of property with the use or threat of force, rather than theft.

Authorities have identified as many as 350 criminal cases that are potentially compromised because they relied on the testimony of or evidence gathered by two Mission gang officers — one of whom is now believed to be Carrillo, the sources said.

It’s not clear whether the pair are the same two Mission gang officers who have been sent to face a disciplinary panel called a board of rights, indicating the department is seeking to terminate them for misconduct. A department spokeswoman, when previously contacted by The Times, denied that Carrillo was one of the officers.


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The gang unit’s alleged misconduct came to light after a traffic stop in December 2022, when a motorist filed a complaint with a neighboring division, claiming the officers were rudeto her and had illegally searched her vehicle. An internal affairs detective assigned to the case later noticed discrepancies in the involved officers’ account of the stop.

The department’s inquiry widened to include stops carried out by others in the unit, uncovering numerous instances in which officers were late to activate their body cameras or otherwise failed to document the encounter, in violation of department policy, officials have said.

Then-Chief Michel Moore ordered the unit disbanded temporarily in August, with its remaining officers reassigned, some placed on restrictive duties that take them off the streets, according to the department. The unit has since resumed its operations with new officers.

LAPD officials denied that the problem of officers flouting the body-camera policy went beyond the Mission unit, despite an internal report that suggested the practice was far more common. The department has since tightened its policy, increasing random reviews of footage to check for compliance and misconduct.

Carrillo is a six-year veteran of the LAPD. Like several other members of the Mission gang unit, he transferred to Mission from the neighboring Foothill Division.

In December, prosecutors dismissed a gun possession charge against Raphael DeLeon, who was stopped by Carrillo and other Mission gang officers on May 28 in the area of Woodman Avenue and Roscoe Boulevard.


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DeLeon’s attorney, Ninaz Saffari, said Carrillo wrote in his report that he and his partners pulled DeLeon over for swerving. The officers discovered that DeLeon’s license was invalid and that he had a prior misdemeanor conviction for firearm possession, the lawyer said. But without obtaining a warrant, Saffari said, the officers ordered DeLeon and a female passenger out of the car while they performed a “protective sweep” of the vehicle.

The search uncovered a ghost gun, which was later destroyed, police said.

In an interview Thursday, Saffari told The Times that the officers’ actions seemed coordinated, as they turned on their body cameras simultaneously, but only after asking for DeLeon’s license several minutes after the stop began — despite a department policy that says officers should record the entirety of all public encounters. None of those details were mentioned in Carrillo’s report, she said.

“He lied all over the report, and not in a smart way, either. Basically he contradicted himself in his own report and claimed they had the body-worn video on the entire time,” Saffari said.

The Mission scandal has brought renewed attention to the department’s oversight of its specialized units, which have been plagued with issues over the years. In 2020, the reputation of the vaunted Metropolitan Division was tarnished after some officers were accused of deliberately misidentifying people as gang members in department records of field interviews. The fallout led to several being criminally charged, although most of those cases were later dismissed.