Los Angeles police have launched a criminal investigation into the recording of a conversation that included racist comments and was leaked online, leading to the resignation of two officials involved, the police chief said.
The leaked audio, which was posted anonymously on Reddit and obtained by The Los Angeles Times earlier this month, details a year-old conversation between then-City Council President Nury Martinez, council members Gil Cedillo and Kevin de León and then-Los Angeles County Federation of Labor President Ron Herrera.
Much of the conversation focused on maps proposed by the city’s redistricting commission and the council members’ frustration with them. But it also featured racist remarks about a fellow council member’s Black son and about Oaxacans.
Martinez and Herrera resigned in the wake of the scandal, which rocked America’s second-largest city weeks before the upcoming election on November 8. Cedillo and de Leon apologized in statements and have resisted calls for their resignations.
On Friday, Martinez, de León, Cedillo and Herrera filed a complaint at a police station, alleging their private conversation was recorded illegally, Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said during a news briefing Tuesday in response to a reporter’s question.
“The department has initiated a criminal investigation into an allegation of eavesdropping,” Moore said.
It is illegal in California to record a confidential communication without the consent all parties involved.
Moore said the LAPD will look into “how such a recording was made and identify, if possible, the person or persons responsible.”
No suspects have been identified, Moore added.
Investigators will “bring the results of the investigation to the appropriate prosecuting agency,” Moore said.
LAPD informed the California Attorney General’s office and the Los Angeles City Attorney’s office of its investigation as both offices are investigating the legality of the meeting itself, Moore said.
After the recording was leaked, state Attorney General Rob Bonta announced his office is conducting an investigation into the redistricting process in Los Angeles.
The officials are heard in the recording discussing the need to “ensure that heavily Latino districts did not lose economic assets” in the once-in-a-decade redistricting process, according to the Times.
Bonta described the process as “foundational to our democracy,” and said it “must be above reproach”
“It’s clear an investigation is sorely needed to restore confidence in the redistricting process for the people of LA,” he said.
At a meeting last week, the city council voted for Paul Krekorian to take over as its president. Members also unanimously voted to look into the next steps to add a ballot measure to amend the city charter and create an independent redistricting commission.