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LAPD Opens Investigation Into Who Recorded Leaked Racist Conversation Among Council Members

The exterior of the LAPD headquarters, a beige multi-story building with the name of the department
LAPD Headquarters in front of City Hall.
(Chava Sanchez
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The Los Angeles Police Department will investigate who may have illegally recorded the conversation between former-Council President Nury Martinez, Councilmembers Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, and L.A. labor leader Ron Herrera. Police chief Michel Moore said all four approached the department last Friday, but a spokesperson for de León denies the councilmember's involvement.

Why it matters: LAPD opened a criminal investigation into the allegation of "eavesdropping." In California, it's illegal to record someone without their consent. The charge can range from a misdemeanor to a felony, depending on the situation.

The backstory: De León and Cedillo have refused to resign over a leaked recording that surfaced two weeks ago, in which they can be heard having a conversation with Martínez and labor leader Ron Herrera that included racist and demeaning comments. Martínez resignedafter the audio leaked. Herrera also stepped down as L.A. County Federation of Labor president.

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Why now: Earlier last week, Moore told Larry Mantle on our newsroom's public affairs show, AirTalk, that the department would not investigate unless one of the people on the recording filed a complaint. Then, on Tuesday, Moore told reporters that the four people involved approached the department last Friday to request an investigation.

Who asked for the investigation? Well, that appears to be in dispute. A spokesperson for de León told LAist the council member "was not one that requested LAPD to take action for an investigation." LAist also reached out to spokespeople for Martinez and Herrera, but received no reply. A spokesperson for Cedillo responded only that the council member "is in a place of deep reflection. He is not available."

Couple more notes: De León's spokesperson said the council member is still not considering resigning. Cedillo's term ends in December.

What's next: Moore said detectives conducted recorded interviews with those heard in the recording. "Our investigation will continue as to the facts and circumstances of how the meeting occurred and information from the victims of why they believe that the recording was unlawful," Moore said. "We'll also look as far as possible to understand how such a recording was made and identify, if possible, the person or persons responsible."