Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Police Department Headquarters. Photo by John Schreiber.

Two Latino police officers involved in the 2010 fatal shooting of an unarmed, autistic black man were treated differently in the aftermath because of their race and denied various work opportunities in retaliation when they complained, their lawyer told a jury Tuesday.

Attorney Gregory W. Smith outlined the case brought by George Diego and Allan Corrales, who allege they have been denied chances for internal assignments and transfers as well as the ability to work armed security jobs outside the Los Angeles Police Department.

Deputy City Attorney Daniel Aguilera, in his opening statement in trial of the officers’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, said both men are allowed to promote within the department.

However, Chief Charlie Beck still does not want them to return to the field because the March 20, 2010, shooting of 27-year-old Steven Eugene Washington in Koreatown involved serious tactical mistakes, Aguilera said.

The case was unusual because Beck found that despite the officers’ errors, the use of deadly force by Corrales was justified. However, the Police Commission still concluded the officers’ actions were wrong, in particular Corrales’ use of lethal force in alleged violation of LAPD policy.

Aguilera said Diego was reprimanded by Beck and that Corrales was told he would be sent to a Board of Rights hearing with a recommendation for termination if something similar happened again.

Aguilera said Diego and Corrales, from the Olympic Division gang detail, encountered Washington on Vermont Avenue. Corrales, thinking Washington was armed and a threat to the officers, fired at him from close range and struck him in the face, Aguilera said.

Washington did not have a weapon and a dark object in his waistband turned out to be a cell phone, Aguilera said.

“Their tactics were very, very wrong,” Aguilera said. “It’s a very serious issue in the community.”

Aguilera said the officers’ race had nothing to do with their work restrictions.

“These officers didn’t suffer anything because they are Hispanic,” Aguilera said.

City News Service

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