A judge said Friday she wants to study the issues further before issuing a final ruling on a lawsuit brought against the city of Baldwin Park by a former police chief who was fired in 2017 just 49 days after he was hired.
David Salcedo alleges in his suit, filed in September 2017 in Los Angeles Superior Court, that he was discriminated against because he is Latino and that he was asked by a council member to perform politically motivated activities he believed were improper.
Judge Monica Bachner issued a tentative ruling Jan. 30 dismissing most of the causes of action in Salcedo’s case, including his claims for racial discrimination, harassment, retaliation, and intentional infliction of emotional distress.
The judge heard arguments Friday morning and then took the case under submission. If she stands with her tentative ruling, the causes of action that will remain in the suit include wrongful termination, failure to accommodate and failure to engage in the interactive process.
However, Astineh Arakelian, one of Salcedo’s lawyers, told the judge there are numerous facts supporting her client’s racial discrimination claim. After the hearing, she said she is confident that the judge’s final decision will be more in Salcedo’s favor that at present.
Lawyers for the city maintain that Salcedo has offered little evidence supporting his claims.
“(Salcedo) is disingenuous in claiming his termination had to do with any purported whistleblowing, his race, age or claimed disability,” the defense lawyers wrote in their court papers. “Rather, he did not have the support of the City Council, the body he reported to, after it became clear he was the wrong fit as chief of police.”
The all-Latino City Council voted 3-2 in closed session in April 2017 to fire Salcedo, who was named to the post in January of that year.
“Within the Baldwin Park Police Department, there has been a pattern and practice of racial discrimination” in the promotions of Latino officers, his suit alleges.
Salcedo alleges he was “subjected to this same bias and discrimination and harassment from many police officers and supervisors, who banded together … and used their collective power to effect the termination of Salcedo’s employment.”
Salcedo was told that many white officers said “that they would do their best to make sure he didn’t last more than a year, at most,” according to his lawsuit, which says former Baldwin Park police chief Lili Hadsell and an ex-city attorney, both Latinos, also were fired.
Hadsell sued the city for gender discrimination and was awarded $7 million by a Los Angeles Superior Court jury last March 26.
Salcedo’s suit says that he resisted requests from a council member to “fix” a ticket. The complaint further alleges that the council member asked him to perform politically motivated actions, including towing a truck that was legally parked, to leave in place no-parking signs placed in violation of the city code, sending a patrol car to investigate a vacant house on the politician’s street.
The council member — who is not a defendant in the suit — was left “angry” and “exasperated” by Salcedo’s refusal to perform the tasks, the suit alleges.
Salcedo says he refused to perform actions for political reasons and reported his concerns to the mayor, city manager and city attorney. He also complained to the mayor about what he believed was excessive billing by the city attorney and offered the opinion that two to three permanent in-house lawyers could be hired for the same price, his suit states.
Salcedo suffers from carpal tunnel syndrome and has back problems, but when he asked the city for user-friendly items to alleviate the pain, he was told he had to pay for them, according to the lawsuit.
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