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LAPD investigating if secret audio of city council using racist language was recorded illegally

( Fox )

Los Angeles police chief confirmed Tuesday that detectives are investigating whether a recording of city council members making racist comments was made illegally.

Asked by an Associated Press reporter to comment on the investigation, Chief Michael Moore said during media availability that the LAPD "has initiated a criminal investigation into an allegation of eavesdropping."

The year-old recording of the private meeting involved then-council president Nury Martinez, Councilmen Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, as well as powerful labor leader Ron Hererra, head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor.

The group, all Latino Democrats, was captured on the recording scheming to protect their political clout in the redrawing of council districts during an hour-long conversation laced with bigoted comments.

The recording revealed that racist language was used to mock colleagues, while they planned to protect Latino political strength in council districts. It's not known who made the tape, or why.

The recording’s disclosure earlier this month unleashed an uproar citywide just weeks before Election Day. Martinez has resigned while two other councilmembers have resisted widespread calls for their ousters.

Chief Moore said Martinez, de León, Cedillo and Herrera approached the LAPD on Friday and asked for the agency to open an investigation.

Detectives have since interviewed the group about why they believe the recording was made "unlawfully and surreptitiously," he 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," he said, adding that no suspects have been identified

Under California law, all parties must consent to the recording of a private conversation or phone call. Otherwise, the person who made the recording could face criminal and civil penalties.

Other questions remain about what the investigation could entail and whether other recordings were made at the labor federation's headquarters.

The state is separately investigating how the council districts were drawn and whether the process was rigged. Attorney General Rob Bonta, a Democrat, has said his investigation could lead to civil liability or criminal charges, depending on what is found.

The fallout has left City Hall in turmoil and President Biden has called on de León and Cedillo to step down. Noisy protesters at City Council meetings have provided a steady backdrop of chants and shouting as they try to increase pressure on the duo to resign.

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