L.A.'s Bandits in Blue

A shocked city investigates charges that its cops have lied, stolen and shot suspects for sport

Javier Francisco Ovando is famous today, but back in 1996 no one much cared when cops stormed his apartment near downtown Los Angeles and shot him in the chest and head. Ovando belonged to the 18th Street Gang, a group of powerful Mexican drug lords. At trial, the judge lectured the skinny 19-year-old--who lay paralyzed on a gurney--for threatening the lives of two brave cops, and sent him away for 23 years.

It was a classic cops-and-robbers tale, but with a film-noir twist. Ovando was railroaded by the police, who had planted a gun to get the conviction. But no one...

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