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Viral video that appeared to threaten officers was rap promo, police say

A video that appeared to threaten Los Angeles police officers and had the department on high alert may have been a case of viral marketing gone wrong.

The video, posted to photo-sharing site Instagram, appears to be shot from inside a vehicle parked directly behind a patrol car, according to a statement from the LAPD. A person whose face cannot be seen reveals a gun, and an officer, seen through the windshield, exits the patrol car, unaware someone is recording.

Detectives from the Robbery-Homicide Division became aware of the video Thursday, but an investigation revealed it had been created by what police said were "members of an early 1990s rap group no longer in fashion."

The film was intended to ignite the group's comeback, according to the statement.

An LAPD spokesperson would not elaborate to KPCC what rap group the statement was referring to.

Police were working in pairs this weekend due to what was seen at the time as a credible threat, and they were still under the impression there was a threat on Saturday night, NBC4 reports, when Van Nuys police shot and killed a suspect after their vehicle's rear window was shattered. 

The original post has been deleted, but the video has since been re-posted:

Dope Cop tweet

Police say they identified the vehicle and three suspects they said were filming.

One suspect had a prior conviction for carrying a firearm. A warrant was issued for his arrest, and SWAT officers executed a related search warrant in the city of Downey, according to police. LAPD Chief Charlie Beck said that due to the prior conviction, that makes the suspect brandishing a loaded firearm in their vehicle as shown in the video a felony, NBC4 reports.

Police expect the suspect to turn himself in Tuesday afternoon, according to NBC4.

Amid national protests over police-on-citizen violence and high-profile attacks on police — including one in New York in December that left two officers dead — police have been wary.

While investigators were still looking into the source of the video, the director of L.A.'s police union, Jamie McBride, had this to say, per NBC4:

"It's very troubling to see this kind of activity. Obviously, this person is a coward. I can guarantee you if he does another stupid act like this again, and actually pulls the trigger in front of an LAPD officer, he will be shot."

Police have since determined the video was made "for entertainment purposes only" and did not represent a credible threat to officers.

The criminal investigation remains open, however.

This story has been updated.