Six members of the Los Angeles Police Internal Affairs Group are suing the city over “whistleblower retaliation,” alleging they were wrongfully reprimanded in a dispute about unlawful activities and nepotism within the department’s upper levels.
The lawsuit says the six believe they were targeted because a deputy chief thought they would speak in support of another internal affairs cop who was vocal about the supposed wrongdoing.
The “whistleblower retalation” lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court by officers Ricardo Ortega, Rick Harris, Andrew Garcia, Sylvia Casas, Rosalie Garcia and Efrain Flores. The suit seeks unspecified damages and an injunction preventing the LAPD from engaging in such alleged illegal conduct against employees in the future.
A representative for the City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached Friday.
According to the lawsuit, IAG Sgt. Cathy Marx made several reports to the LAPD’s Office of the Inspector General, which has oversight over the department’s internal disciplinary process. In October 2013, Marx told the IG that a captain had committed perjury and that an investigation should be opened, the suit states. About two months later, she informed the IG that another captain ordered her to delete portions of a log recording dates on which action was taken in a particular investigation, the suit states.
The captain mentioned by Marx was the supervisor at the time of all the plaintiffs, according to the lawsuit.
In March 2014, Marx reported to the IG and others that Chief Charlie Beck’s daughter sold her personal horse to the LAPD’s mounted unit in violation of the Los Angeles Municipal Code, the suit states.
In November 2014, Marx “reported to her superiors that the chief of police had an alcohol problem” and that a group of officers met with Beck at the Saddle & Sirloin Club, the suit states.
“Marx complained that Chief Beck’s friends were passing around naked pictures of their girlfriends and then drove city vehicles while intoxicated,” the suit states.
Instead of filing complaints and investigating the command staff officers, the deputy chief in charge of IAG “launched an investigation around certain employees assigned to Internal Affairs under the belief these employees would support the allegations of unlawful activities … made by Marx,” the suit states.
In November 2014, the deputy chief ordered an audit of the Complaint Management System commonly used by the plaintiffs “in an attempt to ensnare members of Internal Affairs that McCarthy believed could testify favorably for Marx or unfavorably against any command officer accused of unlawful activity and/or nepotism,” the suit states.
The plaintiffs were reprimanded after the audit “in an attempt to discredit or simply frighten them so that the could not testify favorably for Marx or about the unlawful activities,” according to the lawsuit.
The punishment will cause the six officers to lose some overtime and pension pay and also will negatively impact their ability to promote, the suit alleges.
The lawsuit also alleges that many of the complaints made by Marx were reported by a blogger whose reports were popular among LAPD rank-and-file officers. However, no complaints or investigations were launched despite the articles, according to the lawsuit.
Marx filed her own lawsuit against the city in October 2014 that is still pending trial. She alleges that after coming forward with her various allegations against the command staff, she was “removed from a coveted position … to a position of low importance essentially relegated to reading mail generated by mentally unstable people concerning perceived wrongs caused by the police department.”
—City News Service