The Associated Press - April 10, 2009
LOS ANGELES, CA—One of the former police officers convicted in the Rampart corruption scandal said he will refuse to answer questions in a related upcoming lawsuit because he doesn't want to incriminate himself with more crimes. Nino Durden said he doesn't want to answer questions in the retrial of the lawsuit filed against Los Angeles County by a man who was shot and framed by corrupt police officers, according to a declaration filed in Superior Court. Durden and his former police partner, Rafael Perez, were convicted of shooting and framing gang member Javier Ovando in 1996. Ovando was paralyzed in the shooting and spent three years in jail before his conviction was overturned. He sued the county and a jury awarded him $6.5 million, but a judge overturned the award.
When the county's lawyers tried to question the former officer in February in preparation for the retrial of the case, Durden cited his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.
Attorneys for the county want the court to order him to answer their questions. Durden said he is a defendant in more than 50 federal civil rights lawsuits because of his service with the Police Department's anti-gang unit, including one involving the death of rapper Christopher "Biggie Smalls" Wallace. If he is forced to answer questions in the Ovando case, he could also be charged with attempted murder and conspiring to violate the civil rights of those suing him in the federal cases, he argued in a declaration filed Tuesday. The county has argued that Durden has already been prosecuted so the rules against double jeopardy would protect him from new criminal charges. "He has waived his self-incrimination rights concerning those charges for which he (pleaded) guilty," the county's court papers state. "And the statute of limitations bars new charges against him arising out of his conduct toward Ovando." A hearing on the motion is scheduled April 20.