Six members of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Internal Affairs Group and the city settled the plaintiffs’ lawsuit alleging they were wrongfully reprimanded because a deputy chief believed they would speak in support of another IAG member who was vocal about alleged unlawful activities and nepotism by the command staff.
The resolution was reached during a settlement conference on June 28 with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan. The terms were not divulged and it was not clear from court papers if the accord is subject to City Council approval.
The whistleblower retaliation lawsuit was filed in November 2016 by officers Ricardo Ortega, Rick Harris, Andrew Garcia, Sylvia Casas, Rosalie Garcia and Efrain Flores. The suit sought damages and an injunction preventing the LAPD from engaging in such alleged illegal conduct against employees in the future.
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 stated.
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 Police 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 stated.
“Marx complained that Chief Beck’s friends were passing around naked pictures of their girlfriends and then drove city vehicles while intoxicated,” the suit stated.
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 stated.
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 stated.
The plaintiffs were reprimanded after the audit “in an attempt to discredit or simply frighten them so that they could not testify favorably for Marx or about the unlawful activities,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit also alleged 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.
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