A longtime detective in the Los Angeles Police Department’s Robbery-Homicide unit is suing the city, alleging he was isolated and ostracized by colleagues loyal to a captain who made comments that were unflattering to Jewish people like him as well as to Black women.
A spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment on Detective Barry Telis’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which was filed Friday and seeks unspecified damages.
Telis joined the LAPD in 1987 and is currently a detective III in the Robbery-Homicide Division, the suit states. In May 2019, Bill Hayes, then the captain in command, spoke to a large group of police officers and city officials during the division’s 50th anniversary celebration, according to the suit.
Referring to Telis, Hayes said he put a Jewish detective in charge of the “products” because he knew he would make a good deal, according to the suit, which does not explain what the “products” were.
The plaintiff also alleges that Hayes said a problem which arose during the celebration was resolved by a female Black employee, telling those at the gathering, “An angry Black woman takes care of problems.”
Several months later, LAPD’s Internal Affairs Division received an anonymous letter complaining about Hayes’ comments and an investigation was opened that resulted in Hayes being forced into an early retirement as of last Dec. 31, according to the complaint.
The suit does not specify whether Telis wrote the anonymous letter, but does say that Hayes and others believed the plaintiff was the source and the plaintiff alleges that a “campaign of retaliation” against him began thereafter.
In September 2019, Internal Affairs members told Telis about the anonymous letter, and the next day, a lieutenant issued the plaintiff a card with comments criticizing his skills as a robbery detective, the suit states.
“The statements in the comment card were false and were made to punish plaintiff for allegedly writing the anonymous letter,” the suit alleges.
Later that month, all of Telis’ high-profile homicide cases were taken from him to punish him for allegedly writing the anonymous letter, according to his court papers. Soon thereafter, Telis’ partner of eight years was removed in an attempt to isolate him. the suit alleges.
When interviewed by Internal Affairs regarding the anonymous correspondence, Telis says he spoke truthfully about what he knew of Hayes’ comments and said that he had been subjected to recent retaliation because his supervisors believed he was the source of the anonymous letter.
The lieutenant who issued the first card to Telis with critical comments issued him a second one and warned the plaintiff that he had “better change his attitude” or more cards would be coming, the suit alleges. The negative comments in the second card also were false, the plaintiff alleges.
Before his retirement, Hayes assigned three detectives who had been in the Robbery-Homicide division for several months to handle homicides, knowing that Telis had worked such tasks for eight years and wanted to resume doing so, the suit states.
While on injury leave this spring, Telis says he met with the new Robbery-Homicide division captain, told him about the alleged retaliation he was suffering and asked to be allowed to resume handling homicides instead of robberies when he returned from leave, but his request was denied.
Since Telis returned to work in April, he has been ostracized, shunned by other detectives and “systematically excluded from operational duties,” the suit alleges. A commander warned him he could be left with a “stigma” if he requested an administrative transfer from Robbery-Homicide, the suit states.
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