The Beverly Hills police chief denied Thursday that she made stereotypical remarks about Jewish people or that she retaliated against members of the department when making job assignments.
Chief Sandra Spagnoli told a Los Angeles Superior Court jury that when she asked now-retired Lt. Mark Rosen, who is Jewish, if people of his faith celebrate Thanksgiving, she did so for “operational reasons” and that her inquiry was not mean to disparage his religion.
Asked whether she also asked Rosen why Jewish people wear “funny hats,” the chief replied, “That’s not how that happened.”
The chief also denied making a stereotypical remark about Jewish people’s noses.
Spagnoli’s alleged remarks about the religion and sexual orientation of members of the department she joined in 2016 are at the center of a lawsuit filed against the city of Beverly Hills in December 2017 that is now being tried before a jury in Los Angeles Superior Court.
The plaintiffs are Lieutenants Renato Moreno, Michael Foxen and Shan Davis, and civilian employee Dona Norris, who is the BHPD’s public safety communications and evidence manager.
Moreno maintains he has endured “pervasive” anti-Latino and anti-Catholic discrimination under Spagnoli and that matters came to a head when he provided testimony on behalf of former Capt. Mark Rosen, who also sued the city for discrimination and retaliation and settled for $2.3 million. Moreno also alleges he was given fewer choice assignments, lost job benefits and pay and was subjected to improper internal investigations.
Foxen maintains he suffered a backlash when he notified management that Officer Lisa Weller, who is gay, was paid less than a heterosexual male officer with the same experience.
Davis was Norris’ supervisor and alleges Spagnoli directed him to lower Norris’ performance evaluation because she is gay.
After standing up for Norris and refusing to comply with Spagnoli’s alleged order, Davis was passed over for promotions and transferred to a less prestigious position, the suit alleges.
After finding out that Norris was gay, Spagnoli refused to provide her the necessary support staff and eliminated her promotional opportunities, according to the complaint.
Spagnoli testified that Norris made a good impression on her when the two met shortly after the chief was hired. She denied any wrongdoing concerning Norris’ evaluation.
The chief said assignments she made within the department, including those affecting lieutenants, were done for legitimate reasons and followed a natural rotation that aided individuals in their professional development. She denied that any of the changes were retaliatory.
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