Ted Rall: New Tape Suggests Cops Lied [LISTEN]

ted rall enhanced audio tape news ted rall lapd la times scandal cops lied

A newly enhanced version of the tape Los Angeles police used to convince the LA Times to fire Ted Rall vindicates the award-winning political cartoonist, essayist and Pulitzer finalist. Listen here.

Update: Since this story ran in late July, Ted Rall and aNewDomain have released a far clearer version of the LAPD audio. This second enhanced tape is an order of magnitude better than the first version discussed in the story. 

aNewDomain commentary — We now have an enhanced version of the LAPD tape that Los Angeles Times editors told me the cops gave them, audio they used to prove I lied, which led to my firing as its political cartoonist and blogger in late July.

You can hear the cleaned-up version of the tape below. My incident is at the 03:30 mark.

On this first enhanced version, you can hear a female witness — a witness the LAPD convinced my editors at the Times did not exist and I was making up.

She protests: “He was just jaywalking …  you need to take off … you need to take off his handcuffs.”

She says that at 3:30 and repeats it at 3:50.

To this, the LAPD officer who stopped me replies: “No, no, no, no, no.”

When the bystander persists in protesting the cop’s handcuffing my wrists, the LAPD officer whistles.

At the time of the incident, I was puzzled by his whistling, which seemed like unusual behavior. Now I believe I understand, that it is the officer’s technique to tamp down sounds (like protesting bystanders) that he doesn’t want on the recording.

The recorder on his uniform was not obvious. I had no idea the encounter was being recorded or that a copy existed until this week.

At 4:58 the LAPD officer says, “Here, I’ll take that until we’re done.” It was probably at that point that he removed the handcuffs, in order to free up my hand so I could sign the ticket.

Any way you look at it, the LAPD version of the event doesn’t jibe with the audio tape that they made. And they apparently didn’t bother to listen the tape and do their homework.

Cops were wrong when they said that I didn’t get handcuffed. They were wrong when they said I was mistaken about the presence of protesting witnesses. And they were wrong when they told or implied to my editors at the Times that I’m a liar who should be fired.

And The Los Angeles Times believed the LAPD, not me, their columnist. So they sacked me.

What do you make of all this? Listen for yourself:

Did the officer deliberately whistle to alter the recording? Did he deliberately muffle the recording?

It is the job of the media to question authority, not to blindly defend it and eat its own.

Even in its defense of the LAPD, the LAT couldn’t be bothered to do due diligence. Editors made no effort to investigate the curious claim that this longtime traffic officer had never, ever handcuffed anyone. We showed that wasn’t correct yesterday. The Times didn’t even bother searching its own website before siding with the LAPD.

If they can’t type the officer’s name into a search field, I suppose it’s too much to expect the Times could be bothered to track down a sound engineer in L-friggin’-A?

Classic Streisand effect: In their attempt to discredit me and destroy my reputation as a journalist, the LAPD wound up discrediting themselves and further eroding their own reputation.

But the LAPD’s reputation has, of course, already been destroyed by decades of police brutality, systematic corruption and fatal police shootings of one unarmed black man after another.

Two shorter clips, enhanced differently, follow. Listen to them below.

So the cops were wrong. And there are other questions …

The main question is: Why? Why would the cops lie, if they lied?

The audio tape was not a public record. No one requested my permission, required under California law, to release it. Did The Los Angeles Times file the required papers to get it?

Did The Los Angeles Times approach the LAPD to request the tape, or did the cops (or a third party, like the police union, or the pension fund for cops) approach them first?

Did the Los Angeles Police Protective League cops’ union — which has been gloating on the LAPD.com blog that my firing should be a “lesson” for media everywhere — go out of their way to try to get rid of me? (We are waiting for the LAPPL to get back to us on this question. Ed., Aug. 6, 2015)

Why would the LAPD spend taxpayer money to dig out an ancient audio tape and go to the trouble of doctoring it? And why would they then transcribe it, which they did, and walk it over to the Times, apparently to get me fired?

Under LA law and LAPD rules, an officer must include contemporaneous date, location and other identifying data within each uninterrupted recorded incident. Otherwise it’s a violation of a citizen’s privacy rights.

But that info isn’t on the tape.

Was it illegal for the Times or the LAPD to get the tape, which isn’t public information, without my approval? Read legal analysis from California attorney Tom Ewing and journalist Gina Smith on that question, here. (Times editorial page editor Nick Goldberg, in an email to aNewDomain, said the Times can’t comment on the (Ted Rall) issue.” Ed., August 6, 2015).

That’s one question. Here’s another:

Does the fact that a big chunk of The Los Angeles Times is now owned by Oaktree Capital, an investment firm that itself is powered by billions in investment from the Los Angeles Fire and Police Pension Fund, have anything to do with this?

This pension fund, points out investigative reporter Gina Smith, has previously demanded firings of editorial writers and commentators at UT San Diego (the former San Diego Union Tribune). That media company was recently purchased by the LA Times’ parent company, Tribune Publishing, in a deal announced this past May. Critical eyes are now scrutinizing this media consolidation and the market power it gives sole players. Watch for our upcoming report.

Notes on Audio Enhancement Methodology

The long enhanced version posted here was processed by a technician who wishes to remain anonymous because he lives in Los Angeles, is African American, and has frequently been harassed by the LAPD.

He was able to isolate the sound of the eyewitness who saw me being arrested for jaywalking and then handcuffed — the eyewitness the LAT claimed didn’t exist, in an act the LAPD said never happened.

His statement: “I used a noise reduction plugin to diminish hiss, handling, and street noise. An equalizer cuts low frequency rumble and boosts the upper mid range to enhance intelligibility. A limiter brings up the overall volume.”

A different person, who lives near Los Angeles and also prefers to remain anonymous because she fears retaliation by the LAPD, used this longer version to create the two shorter clips. She said: “I’m using audio repair software to remove surface/street noise with de-noise filters, and an equalizer targeting the vocal ranges of the bystanders.”

I have hired a professional audio technician based in Los Angeles to further clean up the tape provided by the LAPD. Update: Find the LA audio pro’s enhancement of the audio, which is even clearer, here.

For aNewDomain, I’m Ted Rall.

Additional reporting: Gina Smith and Tom Ewing of aNewDomain and SkewedNews.

Update Aug. 6, 2015: For further reading, check out these links:

Ted Rall-LAPD-LA Times Scandal: Timeline by Gina Smith (aNewDomain)
A Note to Readers (about the Ted Rall firing) by Los Angeles Times editorial page editor Nick Goldberg (LA Times)
LAPPL Applauds LA Times Firing of Ted Rall (by Los Angeles Police Protective League Board of Directors (LAPD.com)
LAPD Convinced LA Times To Fire Me After I Criticized Cops [exclusive] by Ted Rall (aNewDomain commentary)
Ted Rall, Los Angeles Times Cartoonist, Dropped After Blog Post Appears To Stretch The Truth (FoxNews.com)
Ted Rall LAPD-LA Times Scandal: A Discrepancy In The Cop’s Story [exclusive] by Ted Rall (aNewDomain commentary)
Ted Rall-LAPD-LA Times Battle: New Tape Proves Cops, Times Were Wrong [exclusive] by Gina Smith with Ted Rall (aNewDomain commentary)
Ted Rall LAPD LA Times Scandal: Second Enhanced LAPD Tape Reveals Startling Details [exclusive] by Ted Rall, Gina Smith and Tom Ewing (aNewDomain
Ted Rall LAPD Scandal: Rall Vindicated, LAPD And LA Times under Fire by Tom Ewing, Gina Smith (aNewDomain news)
Did The LAPD Have A Political Cartoonist Fired? by Ryan Steadman and Guelda Voien (The New York Observer)
‘Cleaned-Up’ Audiotape of Political Cartoonist’s Clash With LAPD Bolsters His Story by Hunter Harris (New York Observer)

In Defense of Ted Rall, A Hard Guy To Defend by Ken Kurson (New York Observer opinion column)

Why Didn’t The Los Angeles Times Examine The Bad Audio from the LAPD? by Ted Rall (aNewDomain commentary)
Cops Gun Down Unarmed Journalist’s Career by Greg Palast (Reader Supported News, opinion) 
Ted Rall: Fisking The Los Angeles Times by Ted Rall (aNewDomain commentary)
Why Won’t The L.A. Times Admit They Were Wrong About Cartoonist Ted Rall? by Susie Madrak (Crooks and Liars)
14 Years Ago, A Woman Vindicated Me Now by Ted Rall (Common Dreams)

About the author

Ted Rall

Based in New York, Ted Rall is aNewDomain’s chief commentator and a nationally syndicated editorial cartoonist. A Pulitzer nominee, Rall’s latest book is the NYT bestselling book, Trump: A Graphic Biography.
Support his work and see his toons first at his site on Petreon. Follow him on Twitter @tedrall

50 Comments

  • Great news, Ted. Though not surprised to know you weren’t lying. Keep up the good work!

  • I wonder what happens next. Do you get your job back? Do you sue? Either? Neither?

    What about the cops? Are you going to find out what you asked in the article. Why’d they do this aside from not lying you. It seems like a lot of work for all that, doesn’t it? thank you, a reader.

    • I’m investigating my legal options. If the LA Times has integrity, they’ll admit their mistake, issue a retraction and resume running my cartoons so we can all move on.

      I am most interested in finding out why the cops did this, of course. Anyone who knows me knows I won’t take this lying down.

  • I wonder whether the Los Angeles Times and LAPD will just try to ignore this and hope it goes away? You would think those two institutions would understand the importance of not getting something like this wrong.

  • Okay!
    The tape enhancements reveal quite a bit more and give you an opportunity to get justice. I noticed at 4:58 Durr says, “Here, I’ll take that until we’re done.’ I had picked up on that on the original and wondered what was referenced. Is that the point at which he removed the handcuffs in order to allow you to sign the ticket? It seems to me that is the case.
    I hope the LAT has sense enough to recognize their mistake and to rectify the situation.

      • Not always, and not all cops. (I used to be one in Texas — but I resigned after six months, because I couldn’t stand the company.)

        • Around here, a lot decent people start off with LAPD or LASD…and once they have a year experience they GTFO and go to work for small cities where the PD has a less toxic culture.

          I’ve met some very nice people who work for small departments in the Southland – and once they get to know you and have a few drinks they have nothing nice to say about LAPD and LASD.

          I was riding to the range with four cops, and listening to them out-brag each other about how they talked down violent suspects without having to use their weapons or violence. That’s when you know there are actually some half-way decent cops in some places.

      • Legally, if this is supposed to be evidence of anything , don’t they have to make the full, unedited physical tape available for analysis? Under the “best evidence” rule? (i.e. a court cannot accept a copy as evidence if the original exists.)

        An edited extract provided as a digital file may not yield as much information for analysis and enhancement as the raw, physical tape, depending on how “compressed” the digital file is.

        Did you or your lawyer ask for the original tape to be sent off for sound analysis at an independent, accredited lab? Because since the tape exists, if they don’t submit it for analysis, neither the LA Times (in defending the termination) nor the LAPD (in asserting that you lied) can produce the crappy, inaudible digital file that they provided, and their “interpretation” as evidence.

        Right?

        • Hei. Svarer raskt her siden Dagbladet har stengt. Du har helt rett i det var en kronglete settning. Jeg mente det som din “relativt” fortolkning.

  • The ability of the police to lie and cover for each other with impunity (as is demonstrated by this, the Samuel DuBose case, the Walter Scott shooting, and a myriad of other incidents) is every bit as troubling as the abuse they’re trying to cover up.

    • The blue line, they call it. Police should serve the people. We should not be afraid of them. It’s insane that they order us around.

  • Ted, there are so many inconsistencies, well, rather, strange events surrounding all of this. Read about gangstalking. I can’t say for sure, but it’s always a possibility.

  • A couple of things I noticed.

    First off, Wow! Ted, I bet you are pretty good at playing Ozzy Osborne records backwards and hearing the “secret” messages right? Your “enhanced” audio proves nothing. I listened and listened and listened and couldn’t hear the “secret” message. Not until you pointed out where it was at. Even then you still can’t make out the “secret” message you heard.

    Secondly, Ted you had no chance with this guy. You came upon Super Cop! The officer was able to stop you (at 6:40 of the audio) handcuff you, rough you up, fill in all those little boxes on your ticket, un-handcuff you, explain the ticket to you, throw your license in the gutter, scare the you know what out of you to the point that you felt as if you two were bros and you ask for a good place to hang out and eat. Not to mention that he still had time to whistle a few tunes before he was done with you (12:50 of the audio).

    He did all that in only 6 minutes and 10 seconds, give or take a few seconds. This sounds like Guiness Book of World Records stuff here! I can’t wait for the lawsuit you’ll be filing so you can present your evidence of nothing happened to a judge, so he can throw you out of his courtroom.

    Don’t hold your breath of getting your job back any time soon, all this enhanced audio proves is that you are still a bold face liar. Oh, and by the way clean up that pigsty you live in.

  • A couple of things I noticed.

    First off, Wow! Ted, I bet you are pretty good at playing Ozzy Osborne records backwards and hearing the “secret” messages right? Your “enhanced” audio proves nothing. I listened and listened and listened and couldn’t hear the “secret” message. Not until you pointed out where it was at. Even then you still can’t make out the “secret” message you heard.

    Secondly, Ted you had no chance with this guy. You came upon Super Cop! The officer was able to stop you (at 6:40 of the audio) handcuff you, rough you up, fill in all those little boxes on your ticket, un-handcuff you, explain the ticket to you, throw your license in the gutter, scare the you know what out of you to the point that you felt as if you two were bros and you ask for a good place to hang out and eat. Not to mention that he still had time to whistle a few tunes before he was done with you (12:50 of the audio).

    He did all that in only 6 minutes and 10 seconds, give or take a few seconds. This sounds like Guiness Book of World Records stuff here! I can’t wait for the lawsuit you’ll be filing so you can present your evidence of nothing happened to a judge, so he can throw you out of his courtroom.

    Don’t hold your breath of getting your job back any time soon, all this enhanced audio proves is that you are still a bold face liar. Oh, and by the way clean up that pigsty you live in.

  • A couple of things I noticed.

    First off, Wow! Ted, I bet you are pretty good at playing Ozzy Osborne records backwards and hearing the “secret” messages right? Your “enhanced” audio proves nothing. I listened and listened and listened and couldn’t hear the “secret” message. Not until you pointed out where it was at. Even then you still can’t make out the “secret” message you heard.

    Secondly, Ted you had no chance with this guy. You came upon Super Cop! The officer was able to stop you (at 6:40 of the audio) handcuff you, rough you up, fill in all those little boxes on your ticket, un-handcuff you, explain the ticket to you, throw your license in the gutter, scare the you know what out of you to the point that you felt as if you two were bros and you ask for a good place to hang out and eat. Not to mention that he still had time to whistle a few tunes before he was done with you (12:50 of the audio).

    He did all that in only 6 minutes and 10 seconds, give or take a few seconds. This sounds like Guiness Book of World Records stuff here! I can’t wait for the lawsuit you’ll be filing so you can present your evidence of nothing happened to a judge, so he can throw you out of his courtroom.

    Don’t hold your breath of getting your job back any time soon, all this enhanced audio proves is that you are still a bold face liar. Oh, and by the way clean up that pigsty you live in. Don’t censor postings, take it like a man.

    • Are you sure that’s what happened? On the newer audio, sounds more to me like Ted may be answering a question from another third party on the scene. A sympathetic onlooker offering a cup of coffee, say? Either way, I don’t think it was addressed at the cop. I could be wrong.

  • I’m almost 65 years old and in my youth I was a hippie and the way I was treated by cops gives me some idea of what it must be like to be black. I have seen cops lie under oath over something petty and other cops back them up. Remember when Mark Fuhrman was on the stand in the OJ trial? There were many cops that were on the scene of the crime that knew he was lying and not a single one came forward and said so. I haven’t trusted cops since I was 18 years old, I still don’t trust them. City cops, small town cops, none of them. I sincerely hope you win a very large judgement against the Los Angeles Police Department. Fortunately I am old and white so they leave me alone now but when I was young with long hair they would go out of their way to make sure I didn’t have a good day. Kick their asses Ted

  • Maybe I’m deaf, but I just hear noise for most of this, and nothing incriminating to the cop or anyone. Am I missing something?

  • Ted,

    Blowback is a bitch isn’t it? Read thru your rankings and conspiracy theorizing about the ownership of LAT and police union investments. Perhaps your next cartoon will be a s elf portrait with your tin foil hat on.

  • I’m glade whenever a marxist falls on his or her face. Yeah, I know, this next time marxism won’t end in miserable failure and possibly genocide.

  • We know you’re a jaywalker, which is not so bad, and it’s understandable to be annoyed at a jaywalking ticket.
    But now we know you had no issue using a public forum to slander the PD, and in the face of that they defend themselves, so now we know you’re a serial liar and a conspiracy theorist peddling this completely ridiculous garbage. Even in these comments you claim that all cops lie.
    So you got what you deserved.

  • Mark, I am astonished anyone would trust a man like Rall when he makes a completely silly statement like, “…frankly, I know cops always lie.” Really, they always lie? Always? Rall sounds like some high schooler. Many of us have had experiences with the police, especially in our clumsy youth, but you never, ever met a cop who was fair? Never? If the biggest liberal rag on the west coast, the L.A. Times, thinks Rall stinks and is clearly a lying sonofabitch, then what chance does reality have of coming out in all this, something that happened 15 years ago–and the police officer just haps to keep a tape for all these years? What luck for him and still they question the cop in spite of his good grace and courtesy clearly evidenced in the recording!

  • Im sorry ted but half of the claims you made in your article arent heard on the tape. Imy sure you hyped your story for the attention but geeez this tape also makes you sound bad. I was hoping to believe you and was looking forward to listening to the audio but now Im like wtf! Ted lied more then the cops. Im no longer a fan of you or the police.

  • You’re a scumbag who treats your political targets very unfairly. I’m so happy to discover the tables finally turned on you.

    PS: why did you decide on a career in art when you obviously have no ability to draw?

  • Keep up the good fight, Ted. Read about this & signed a petition to have you reinstated at the LA Times.