Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore said Tuesday that his department has opened an investigation into leaked audio of three Latino City Council members recorded making racist and disparaging remarks while discussing redistricting with the head of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor last year.
City Council member Nury Martinez, who made the most objectionable comments in the October 2021 conversation, resigned first as council president and then from the City Council. Labor leader Ron Herrera, who hosted the meeting, stepped down as head of the powerful labor union. The other two council members in the recording, Kevin de León and Gil Cedillo, have resisted widespread calls for their resignations, including from the White House.
Under California law, all parties have to consent to the recording of a private conversation or phone call, unless a court determines that the recording is a matter of sufficient public concern. "The state's wiretapping statutes are among the strongest in the nation and allow the 'injured party' — the person being recorded without their permission — to sue," The Associated. Press explains. The person who recorded the conversation could be charged with a misdemeanor or felony, depending on the circumstances.
Moore said police do not yet have a suspect or a motive. The LAPD's Major Crimes Division has "initiated a criminal investigation into the allegation of eavesdropping into the L.A. Fed meeting," after the "individuals that were present at that meeting" — Martinez, Cedillo, De León, and Martinez — went to the LAPD in person on Friday and requested an investigation, Moore said. A spokesperson for De León told the Los Angeles Times late Tuesday that he did not request an investigation.