A former Baldwin Park police chief was fired in 2013 because of her gender, her attorney told a jury Tuesday, but a lawyer for the city said the plaintiff suffered no disparate treatment and that two of three City Council members who voted to terminate her were themselves women.
The lawyers gave their opening statements to a Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing trial of Lili Hadsell’s lawsuit against the city of Baldwin Park, in which she alleges gender discrimination, gender harassment and retaliation.
Hadsell was hired by the city in 1999 and appointed police chief in 2008. She alleges in her court papers that after being named to the job, she became the victim of tokenism by city officials and was “paraded around as a prop to celebrate themselves for having a female police chief.”
Hadsell alleges she was undermined before her subordinates when City Councilman Ricardo Pacheco told them a woman could not handle the chief’s job.
She alleges Pacheco was also behind blog posts such as one that stated, “I believe the only police work Hadsell did was on her knees to get promoted through the ranks.”
Hadsell was fired on Dec. 10, 2013, and replaced with Capt. Michael Taylor. The complaint alleges Pacheco and Taylor “worked in concert to harass and discredit” Hadsell while she was chief.
Plaintiff’s attorney Gary Dordick told jurors that Taylor “treated (Hadsell) with contempt.” Dordick said his client had a “progressive” attitude toward policing in which she urged officers on the male-dominated force to get out of their cars and interact with citizens.
But attorney Dana McCune, on behalf of the city, said Hadsell had problems with the rank-and-file members of the department. He said that two of the three council members who voted to oust her were women.
Hadsell, 63, stated in a sworn declaration that prior to her appointment, she believed Taylor was the likely choice for chief given his longtime service with the department.Taylor was out of the country when Hadsell was named chief.
“The very same night I was appointed chief of police, I sent an email to Taylor telling him that I had been appointed and apologizing it had occurred while he was gone,” Hadsell said in the declaration. “I reiterated that I hoped we would be able to work together as we had so well as captain and lieutenant. Taylor never responded to the email.”
When Taylor returned from his trip, he “wouldn’t speak to me, much less look at me,” Hadsell said.
During the first months after her appointment, Hadsell said she “received a lot of attention from the community for being the first female Latina chief of police” in the city’s history.
Born in Peru, Hadsell immigrated to the U.S. with her family at the age of 4 and they settled in San Gabriel. She began her law enforcement career in 1976 as a police cadet with the Pasadena Police Department. In 1983, she became the second woman police officer for the San Marino Police Department.