A Los Angeles County sheriff’s sergeant testified Thursday that she felt hurt by accusations from a deputy she trained five years ago who claims she stopped citizens without a legal justification while instructing him in the field.
“It’s very painful,” Sgt. Joanne Arcos told a Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing trial of Deputy Andrew Rodriguez’s lawsuit. “For me that’s a very serious accusation.”
Arcos, who denied Rodriguez’s allegations, said maintaining her integrity is central to her work in law enforcement.
Rodriguez’s lawsuit, filed in October 2017, alleges he was subjected to a hostile work environment for speaking out against what he believed was wrongful conduct within the sheriff’s department. His claims come from his time working as a patrol deputy at the Industry station, where he was assigned in December 2013 after earlier stints in the county jails and as a bailiff in Compton Superior Court and the Edelman Children’s Court.
Undersheriff Tim Murakami was a captain and the head of the Industry station at the time. Murakami is scheduled to testify Monday.
Rodriguez, 37, testified that his first two trainers at the Industry station, Arcos and Timmy Nakamura, engaged in what he believed were unconstitutional stops and detentions of potential suspects that could have led to both him and the trainers going to federal prison.
He said a third trainer, George Meza, was an improvement compared to the first two; however; Meza testified that Rodriguez said he would shoot a suspect they were looking for because he was unhappy about having to stay overtime for a call. Rodriguez denied saying that.
Last week, Rodriguez said he saw no reasonable suspicion to justify Arcos stopping a motorist in January 2014. He told the jury that when he asked Arcos why she did so, she refused to answer. He said he also saw her make questionable searches of trunks of vehicles during traffic stops that appeared to conflict with the legal grounds to do so that he had learned at the sheriff’s academy.
But Arcos said the motorist had a defective tail light and that when she observed him after the stop, he showed signs of being under the influence. She said a pipe commonly used by methamphetamine users was found in the vehicle’s console.
Arcos further stated that Rodriguez was once late to a briefing and another time left contraband in a car; she said some of his behavior raised safety concerns for her.
Arcos also said Rodriguez overstated an award he described to jurors in which he said he helped in the arrest of a man who had numerous keys to stolen cars in his glove box; Arcos said many of the keys were not from stolen cars.
Rodriguez is currently an unpaid, inactive member of the department.