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Denzel Washington's Character In Training Day Was Inspired By This Corrupt LAPD Cop

Moviegoers are used to seeing Denzel Washington lay waste to the bad guys on the screen. So, on the rare occasions where he actually gets to play the villain, he makes the most of it. The actor loves the freedom that comes with playing antagonistic characters, and he always relishes the opportunity to bring them to life. "In playing a real character who's heroic, you're kind of stuck," he told ET Online (via Digital Spy). "There's only so much you can get away with. But [the] bad guy can say anything." Amen to that.

Washington also has a knack for bringing real-life figures to life, though the majority of them are more celebrated than reviled in the history books. However, the same can't be said about the dirty cop who served as the basis for Washington's character in "Training Day," the 2001 crime-thriller about corruption in the Los Angeles Police Department. While the character isn't a direct recreation of the real-life officer in question, it's pretty evident which person Washington was riffing on in "Training Day."

Detective Alonzo Harris was inspired by a corrupt Rampart officer

"Training Day" follows Denzel Washington's Alonzo Harris, a senior narcotics officer who takes an aspiring rookie (played by Ethan Hawke) under his wing to see if he has what it takes to survive on the streets. Unfortunately, the young detective doesn't share the veteran cop's enthusiasm for pocketing the drug money found at crime scenes, and all hell breaks loose.

Per All That's Interesting, Washington's character was based on Rafael Pérez, a disgraced officer who was arrested in 1998 after it was discovered that he stole $800,000 worth of drugs and fabricated the evidence. The cop, who was a member of the LAPD's scandalous Rampart division, was known for his aggressive behavior, which he demonstrated by shaking down gang members and stealing loots along with other officers who shared his predilection for corruption. 

Perez got off lightly in the grand scheme of things, though. The disgraced officer accepted a plea deal in the year 2000, which saw him implicate 70 other crooked cops for an assortment of crimes, ranging from drinking on the job to murder. Perez's testimonies also led to more than 100 false convictions being overturned, resulting in the city of Los Angeles having to pay out over $125 million in settlements.