Denzel Washington's Oscar-Winning Role Was Based On This Real Black Officer

denzel washington looking off into the distance
Zain Murdock
May 12, 2022

“They build jails ‘cause of me!” When Denzel Washington played corrupt cop Alonzo Harris in Oscar-winning film “Training Day,” it wasn’t 100% fiction. 

Washington’s character was largely based on former LAPD officer Rafael Pérez, the Afro-Latino cop who caused serious damage as a part of the infamous CRASH unit.

Perez was among the 90% of the unit’s officers committing misconduct in the 80s and 90s. That’s why when Pérez and his partner framed and shot a 19 year old, their sergeant gave them a plaque as reward! But it doesn’t stop there.

In 1998, Pérez was arrested for replacing $1 million worth of cocaine from the LAPD property room with flour, dealing the real drug on the streets. And until 2014, he was even thought to be responsible for the killing of the Notorious B.I.G.!

How did he get in so deep?

After joining the unit in 1995, Pérez blamed how intoxicating the power became. And he’s not the only one. Statistically, hiring Black officers has had no correlation with making our communities safer. The system is a hotbed for abusing power.

We may be tempted to celebrate hiring Black officers, or even just enjoy watching cop thrillers. But we must remember the reality beyond the headlines and fictional stories: the Black cop is not a hero to Black communities, but actually the opposite!

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