Back in late October, the Captain of the LAPD came under fire for his alleged involvement in an illegal marijuana warehouse. The police were called to the warehouse’s location for a burglary on October 31st. Upon arriving on the scene it became clear that this wasn’t just a normal business. Instead, the LAPD stumbled upon an illegal marijuana operation. This was not the only surprise that they were in store for either.
As it turns out, the person who called in the break in was current Rampart Division Captain, Phillip A. Smith. Smith was off duty at the time and just so happened to be next door to the warehouse at the time of the break in. Smith also denied knowing that the warehouse was used as an illegal marijuana grow house. He was quoted saying “They investigated and it led to an illegal marijuana grow”.
Soon after the discovery, the legitimacy of Smith’s statements came into question. It seemed too far of a reach for a police captain to be so unknowingly close to illegal actions. If there was a chance for Smith to clear it up, he chose not to take that chance. Almost immediately following the finding Smith refused to answer key questions. These questions included why he was at the location and would only refer police questions to his attorney.
This led many people in the line of duty to question why a police captain would refuse to work the local police on an investigation. The lack of cooperation was the key that led to an investigation into Smith himself.
After raiding the warehouse, the LAPD removed many marijuana plants, cigarettes and cigars from the location. Because of the size of the warehouse, the Gang and Narcotics Division started working the LAPD on the case. More specifically, they were looking into whether or not Smith was providing security detail for the warehouse.
Smith was soon placed on paid leave back in November while the investigation continued. This leave was set to take place until the internal investigation into Smith was over. However, things got much more complicated for the LAPD and Smith.
In an effort to understand Smith, it is important to take a look at where he started. Smith has a long career in police service. He joined the LAPD at a young age back in 1988. After spending over nine years in the Metropolitan Division of the LAPD he began working in Air Support. All though Smith had a long career, he is still new to the captain position. Smith was officially promoted to captain of the Northeast Division in the summer of 2016. At the time of the investigation, Smith was the captain of Rampart.
As of early December, Smith continues to be under investigation over his role in the marijuana warehouse. Smith’s attorney, Muna Busailah, vehemently claims her client’s innocence. It is their firm stance that the captain is not in any way affiliated with the marijuana found in the warehouse. But, does this mean that he didn’t play any role? Some don’t think that this is the case.
The internal investigation into Smith is hoping to show what knowledge, if any, Smith may have had about the business. Many speculate that even if Smith didn’t know about the illegal operations, he still was involved with the building. This could explain why he was there so promptly back on October 31st. These reports are not unfounded either. Many news sources are claiming that Smith was involved with the warehouse in some capacity. However, whatever that is has yet to be seen.
Smith remains on paid leave and still holds his job while the investigation continues. Also, no search warrant has been issued for Smith’s home or property as of now. This has lead many people to wonder if this is really a case of “wrong place, wrong time”.
One thing is clear, if the LAPD does have information, they are not sharing it. It still remains unclear if any evidence was found to support this theory. It should also be said that this investigation has brought some scrutiny on the LAPD itself. Despite skepticism the LAPD statement is “The Rest of the Department is doing (its) due diligence”.
It may be a while before any more information is released. This is because internal investigations are often kept private and concealed until complete. Even other leading officers are refusing to comment on the situation. As far as Smith’s innocence, only time will tell. Meanwhile Smith still holds strong to his innocence and denies any wrongdoing.