A Los Angeles police sergeant is suing the city, alleging he has experienced retaliation since last September after reporting that he heard a captain make a racially insensitive to a fellow captain, who is Latino.

Sgt. Rigoberto Vasquez is the officer in charge of the Foothill Division vice unit. His Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed on Friday and seeks unspecified damages. A spokesman for the City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment.

Vasquez’s troubles began in September 2020 when the plaintiff overheard Capt. Johnny Smith tell Capt. German Hurtado, a Latino, that Hurtado and his family members are “wetbacks,” according to the suit, which does not state Smith’s race.

Hurtado filed an internal complaint against Smith last August regarding the captain’s alleged remark and the next month the plaintiff was interviewed by Internal Affairs about what he had heard, according to the suit.

Vasquez met with Smith in October on an unrelated matter and Smith talked with the plaintiff about the internal complaint for about two hours, saying, “I can’t believe that (Hurtado) filed a complaint against me,” the suit states.

Smith also was upset with Vasquez for his interview with Internal Affairs, the suit states. When Vasquez replied that he had an obligation to tell the truth, Smith “threateningly” told the plaintiff that he did not have to say he remembered Smith making the “wetback” comment, the suit states.

“Just know that you’re in front of a very powerful train here,” Smith told Vasquez, according to the suit. “This is something that can get in the way of your career. Do you think you’re going to make lieutenant if you’re involved in stuff like this?”

Vasquez believes Smith recorded their discussion on his phone and he later discussed the conversation with Hurtado, who along with Smith was a supervisor of the plaintiff, the suit states. Vasquez told Hurtado that he believed Smith’s remarks to him were retaliatory in nature, the suit states.

Vasquez was subsequently interviewed by Internal Affairs regarding his conversation with Smith and shortly thereafter, the plaintiff was reassigned to work under a different captain who was newly appointed and not as familiar with the complex workings of undercover operations, the suit states.

Vasquez was ordered to avoid contact with Smith and when the two cross paths, Smith glares at the plaintiff and refuses to speak to him, the suit states.

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