Los Angeles County Undersheriff Timothy Murakami testified Monday that a deputy alleging he experienced a hostile work environment for speaking out against what he believes was wrongful conduct by his trainers at the Industry sheriff’s station began complaining only after he filed a lawsuit.
Murakami also said that the deputy, 37-year-old Andrew Rodriguez, once left a female deputy stranded without transportation during a meal break and later said he didn’t recall the incident when questioned about it.
The undersheriff further disputed Rodriguez’s testimony that working at the sheriff’s Industry station gave him a better opportunity at career advancement than at other stations where there are fewer calls for service, such as the Walnut/Diamond Bar station, where he turned down an offer for a transfer.
“It doesn’t impact your career where you work,” Murakami said.
Rodriguez filed his lawsuit in October 2017. He was assigned as a trainee at the Industry station in December 2013 after earlier stints in the county jails and as a bailiff in Compton Superior Court and the Edelman Children’s Court. Trial of his Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit is in its third week.
Murakami was a captain and the head of the Industry station when Rodriguez was a trainee there.
Rodriguez testified previously that his first two trainers at the Industry station, Joanne 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 once pulled out his firearm, held it low in the patrol car and said he would shoot a suspect they were looking for because he was unhappy about having to stay overtime for a call. Rodriguez denied the accusation.
Murakami said he had heard from his staff that Rodriguez had threatened to kill a member of the public, but not that the deputy had drawn his weapon. He also said that an investigation into Rodriguez’s accusations against his trainers were conducted after he filed his lawsuit and they were found to be meritless.
Asked by Rodriguez’s lawyer, Alan Romero, whether he wanted the plaintiff found unfit to be a sheriff’s deputy, Murakami replied, “I don’t know if that’s true, I wanted him checked for fitness.”
Rodriguez is currently an unpaid, inactive member of the department.
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