A female member of the Los Angeles police bomb squad is suing the city, alleging the bosses did little when she complained that a male colleague stalked and harassed her even though he knew she was gay.
Stefanie Alcocer’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, filed Monday, states that Officer Harry Lathrop told her that he was “madly in love” with her for six years and that he intended to leave his wife “because of his deep love for her.”
Alcocer alleges she was forced to work in a hostile work environment and subjected to retaliation because she is gay and due to the fact she spoke out against inappropriate behavior on the job.
She seeks unspecified damages.
A representative for the City Attorney’s Office did not immediately return a call for comment.
According to the complaint, Alcocer joined the LAPD in September 1996 and was one of 40 candidates in 2008 vying to be a bomb technician. She was selected and was the only female bomb technician in her unit, the suit states.
Lathrop, also a bomb technician, first made his alleged verbal advances toward Alcocer last April, the suit states. She responded that she did not have any romantic feelings toward him and that a relationship “was never going to happen,” the suit states.
“(Alcocer) told Lathrop to leave her alone and give her space,” the suit states.
However, on a “daily basis” thereafter, Lathrop “stalked” Alcocer, showing up at restaurants where she ate, drove by her work detail even when he was assigned elsewhere, sent her emails and text messages and “bombarded her with telephone calls,” the suit states.
On one occasion, Lathrop cornered Alcocer in an LAPD parking lot and “punched an LAPD truck” when she refused to speak to him, according to her complaint.
Last May, Alcocer and her domestic partner, who also is an LAPD officer, went to Washington, D.C. to attend an event honoring and raising money for the families of slain police officers, the suit states. Lathrop also attended and was registered at a different hotel than Alcocer and her partner, but he still showed up in the lobby of where the plaintiff was staying and asked her partner to speak with him, the suit states.
“Lathrop’s request was denied,” the suit states.
When Alcocer went to a Starbucks near her hotel, Lathrop walked up and asked, “What about us?,” the suit states.
Alcocer replied, “There is no us,” the suit states.
Alcocer complained about Lathrop’s alleged misconduct to supervisors during the next several months, concerned that Lathrop had access to the bomb squad explosives bunker, the suit states. But after she presented her case to Internal Affairs in September, nothing was done and Lathrop remained in the bomb squad, the suit states.
The next month, Capt. Cathy Meek, the commanding officer of the bomb squad, told Alcocer that her complaints about Lathrop did “not rise to the level of misconduct” and declined to begin a personnel complaint against him, the suit states.
Lathrop was removed from the bomb squad on Dec. 26, but Meek ordered that his equipment “was not to be reassigned” and that it was “being stored” for him, the suit states. He also was allowed to keep his city car and phone, according to the complaint.
—City News Service
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