You might think that exploring the ties between rogue cops and some of the most notorious murders of the 1990s (Biggie and Tupac) would be a good way to sell newspapers, but selling newspapers has long been a lower priority than Shaping the Narrative.
Further, how common are "gangsta cops" in reality? I called one of the LAPD's most prominent critics, "police misconduct" lawyer Winston Kevin McKesson, a protégé of superstar attorney Johnnie Cochran. He remarked that the plot "seems a bit over the top." McKesson said he's sued many cops for excessive force, but of those he's sued, none were "a complete crook."
McKesson, though, has defended one cop who might indeed fit that description: Rafael Perez. When his theft of a million dollars worth of cocaine from the police evidence locker was finally uncovered, Perez, to win a reduced sentence, incriminated 70 fellow officers in his elite anti-gang unit. Yet, Perez ended up admitting that a large fraction of the worst abuses at Rampart - such as an attempted murder - were his own work, making him look less like a whistleblower and more like Rampart's criminal kingpin.
Even though Ayer wrote the first draft of his script before the Rampart scandal broke, McKesson noted that there are now "striking similarities" between the character portrayed by Washington and his client Perez. For example, both are black and bilingual, even though McKesson estimates that only three or four out of about 1,000 black LAPD officers can speak Spanish.