Update, Aug. 2, 2015: We now have the latest enhanced version (v. 2) of the police audio dub The Los Angeles Times relied upon before firing political cartoonist and essayist Ted Rall, allegedly for lying. Listen below. The enhanced tape backs up Rall’s story and undermines most claims by the Times and the LAPD.
aNewDomain commentary — Three weeks after 9/11, I was walking on Melrose Avenue in the West Hollywood section of Los Angeles. I had just appeared for a taping of the TV show “Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher” at a nearby CBS Television City studio.
I was buoyant. I’d met former MTV VJ Kennedy. And Woody Harrelson, who was hanging out in the green room, had just told me he was a fan. I was having a great night.
I was on my way to dinner with my brother-in-law and sister-in-law, agent, radio producer and some friends. I crossed the north side of Melrose at the corner of Gardner Street. With the light. In the crosswalk.
That’s when a Los Angeles police officer appeared.
The cop (shown at right in a photo from an unrelated Los Angeles Times story) angrily accused me of jaywalking. He would have known I did no such thing if he’d actually watched me cross Melrose.
He threw me against a wall. I’m a big guy, so that’s saying a lot. Then he handcuffed me and began writing up my ticket.
As he wrote it up and I stood there, stunned and cuffed, an angry crowd of people gathered on the street. Many of the onlookers began calling out, catcalling and protesting the officer’s treatment of me.
I remember the officer whistling to himself several times during the course of the incident. I recall thinking that was strange at the time. You can hear that whistling in the original LAPD dub and both enhanced versions.
After he was done writing me a ticket, instead of handing me my driver’s license, he threw it in the gutter.
On May 11, 2015, I wrote about my experience in a blog for the website of The Los Angeles Times, where I’d been a cartoonist and commentator since 2009. (It was a long relationship. The Times have run my syndicated editorial cartoons since the early 1990s.)
On July 27, Times reporter Paul Pringle and editorial page editor Nick Goldberg (pictured at left) called me at my New York home office. They told me that cops had provided them with a dub of an audio tape from my 2001 LAPD jaywalking stop. I never even knew such a tape existed.
So, based on this 14-year-old recording I never knew existed — one that the police officer recorded without my knowledge or consent — the editors at the Times informed me that I had not told the truth in that column. The tape didn’t back me up, they said, adding that the tape evidence portrayed a polite stop with no evidence that I was handcuffed or that an angry, shouting crowd of passersby had gathered.
Then Pringle played me the tape. I was floored. The audio was awful (listen here). The 6:20 tape contained only about 20 seconds of semi-audible speech, and fully six minutes worth — was incomprehensible noise and static. And there was all that whistling.
Goldberg later called me, based on that tape, I would no longer be writing for the Times. Yet the Times made no apparent attempt to enhance, or authenticate, the audio using commonly available technology and expertise.
And for the next several days, I was publicly humiliated and constantly hassled.
First the Times published an Editor’s Note announcing my firing and the LAPD’s allegations in the print and online editions of the newspaper. It still doesn’t have a retraction on it or any kind of note or update that would indicate that there is new information — like the new tape that vindicates me. Why not?
Update, August 6, 2015: The author of the note, Times editorial page editor Goldberg, did not provide an answer to that or other questions in an email to aNewDomain’s Gina Smith. “The Times is not commenting on the issue,” he wrote in the email.
As for the tape, it took me just two days to come up with the first enhanced version of the LAPD audio tape. Still mostly inaudible, it at least revealed at least one bystander’s voice demanding the officer “take off his handcuffs!”
And now, the audio engineers we hired at Post Haste Digital have provided us this latest tape, which is far clearer. That’s the professionally enhanced, newest version of the dub that we are posting today. It provides the clearest picture yet of what went down on Oct. 3, 2001, at the corner of Melrose and Gardner.
See the full transcript below and listen to both tapes below. Caution: Both contain adult language, including obscenities, frank sexual innuendo and vulgar language not suitable to family viewing or listening.
Latest expert-analyzed and amplified version of original LAPD police audio tape dub (release date August 3, 2015):
For comparison, here’s the original LAPD-made dub of the police officer’s recording of the incident, as supplied to the Los Angeles Times as “proof” that I was lying:
Transcript of the latest expert-analyzed and amplified version of original audio:
3.364 – Police Officer to Ted Rall: “You have an ID?”
7.570 – Police Officer: [unintelligible]…”the LA County Police Department, the reason I stopped you, you got a red light, and you just walked across just as free as you wanted to, so…”
15.654 – Rall: “I’m really sorry, I totally missed…” [unintelligible]
16.902 – Police Officer: “That’s alright, you’re gonna get a ticket for it, I need you to take that out, of your wallet, please.”
30.585 – Police Officer: “Is this your current address? ‘kay…”
34.173 – CLICK CLICK [may be handcuffs going on Rall?]
55.363 – Police officer whistles.
1:00.580 – Police officer hums.
1:03.186 – Unintelligible noise – possibly zipper.
1:26.700 – Voice, female [unintelligible].
2:05.207 – Voice, unclear if male or female [unintelligible].
2:13.000 – Voice, female [unintelligible].
3:00.314 – Police officer whistles.
3:07.426 – Voice, unclear if male or female [unintelligible].
3:13.662 – Voice, unclear if male or female [unintelligible].
3:17.756 – Woman 1: “Why’d you handcuff him?”
3:21.672 – Voice, male [unintelligible].
3:22.549 – Woman 1: “Why’d you…” [unintelligible].
3:26.706 – Rall to Woman 1: [unintelligible]…”I’m from New York”…yeah!”…“So I can say that.”
3:33.351 – Woman 1 to Rall: “You just tell him…” DOG BARK.
3:35.000 – Police officer whistles. Woman 1 yells.
3:37.864 – Woman 2 to Police Officer: “Don’t think about his family.”
3:39.621 – Rall: “I have a right to a…” [unintelligible].
3:43.500 – Woman 1: “Yeah!”
3:46.442 – Woman 2: “So he’s really detaining him?”
3:47.000 – Woman 3: “He was just jaywalking… you need to take off.. no, take off his handcuffs!”
3:54.073 – Police Officer: “No no no no. First, I’m giving him a ticket.”
3:57.179 – Woman 3: “Then take off…[unintelligible]”
4:01.305 –Woman 2: “He’s overdressed!” [The police officer was wearing body armor on a warm October night.]
4:04.845– Woman 2: “Let’s go murder some widows!”
4:06.730 – Woman 3: “Stop it!” (shouting)
4:07.063 – Police officer: “I’m doing the right thing.”
4:11.736 – Woman 2 to police officer: “You’re gonna make a big tip!”
4:14.054 – Woman 2 to police officer: “I’m just a big girly-boy, give or take.”
4:15.908 – Woman’s voice, possibly Woman 3: “He’s behind him, this makes it…”[unintelligible].
4:18.738 – Woman’s voice, possibly Woman 3 or Woman 4: “Don’t forget to ride his asshole!”
4:21.054 – Police officer to women: “Well, I appreciate it.”
4:22.209 – Woman 1 to police officer: “Here, fuck me and get over it!”
4:23.450 – Woman 2, to police officer: “I mean, don’t you got other problems going on in LA right now?”
4:27.114 – Police officer: “Not especially.”
4:28.192 – Woman 2: “Well go over there.”
4:31.198 – Police officer: “Oh I feel really scared.”
4:36.500 – Police officer hums.
4:34.500 – Police officer hums.
4:51.452 – Police officer to Rall: “Alrighty, sir, you’ve been cited for 21456(B) of the vehicle code.”
4:58.224 – Police officer: “Here, I’ll take that until we’re done, there ya go.”
5:00.930 – Police officer: “You did a violation, so…”
5:04.436 – Police officer: “I need you to go ahead and sign at the X, you’re not admitting guilt …”
5:08.094 – Police officer: “It has the [unintelligible] before the [unintelligible]…you…”
5:11.948 – Rall: “’Okay, can you tell me how much it is?”
5:15.317 – Police officer: “Excuse me?”
5:16.000 – Rall: “Can you tell me how much it is, or…?”
5:17.352 – Police officer: “No, we don’t know how much it is. There, I’ll show you a number on the back of the ticket. You can call and find all that information out as well as where you can go if you want to fight the ticket, or any other options.”
5:36.719 – Police officer: “Here’s your license back…”
5:42.644 – CLICK. SCUFFLING sounds.
5:46.048 – Police officer: “…copy of your citation, like I said, there’s a lot of information on the back, you might wanna read it…”
5:50.766 – Rall: “Do what? Okay.”
5:53.400 – Police officer: “Thank you sir… what?”
5:58.158 – Rall: [unintelligible]
6:00.428 – Police officer: “You know what? This is my first month here, so I don’t know any of the local eateries, unfortunately… I don’t hang out down there. Alright, have a good day.”
6:16.276 – Police officer: “Contact complete.”
Select Clip — Optimized
Below, find a comparison between the LAPD dub that the Times told me police provided as proof that I’d lied in print about my jaywalking arrest, and the newly examined and amplified (v. 2) audio we received from expert engineers.
3:17.756 – Woman1: “Why’d you handcuff him?”
LAPD-supplied audio clip:
Enhanced audio clip:
Special thanks to: Audio Enhancement by Post Haste Digital, Los Angeles.
Update August 6, 2015: For further reading, check out these links: