Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.
Los Angeles Police Department headquarters in downtown Los Angeles. Photo by John Schreiber.

A former Los Angeles police captain sued the city Wednesday, alleging he was forced into early retirement out of fear of retaliation for bucking a mandate from the chief to find that any officer who appeared before a Board of Rights disciplinary hearing should be fired.

Joel Justice filed the lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages.

An LAPD spokeswoman declined to comment on the suit.

According to the complaint, Chief Charlie Beck and a deputy chief said during a meeting with personnel with the rank of captain and above that they should “terminate any officers sent to a BOR for termination notwithstanding the guilt of the officer.” The lawsuit does not state the date of the meeting.

Justice had reservations about the order because he believed all officers accused of misconduct were entitled to a fair hearing before a BOR panel, which usually consists of two LAPD staff of the rank of captain or higher and one civilian, according to his court papers.

Justice says he sat on two BOR hearings in which the panel found that the officers should not be fired. Another deputy chief chided him by saying that one of the officers who Justice’s panel decided against firing would end up working with him, the suit states.

“It was, and still is, common practice to send officers who are acquitted in a BOR to be reassigned to the hearing officer’s division as punishment,” the suit alleges.

Justice was later subjected to exaggerated scrutiny for crime statistics while the area commander for the Topanga Station shortly after he was assigned there and before he had a chance to start any new programs, according to his lawsuit.

Knowing he was going to be subjected to further retaliation, Justice in February 2014 entered into an LAPD program for early retirees, the suit states. Not long thereafter, he was demoted to a lower rank of captain and he resigned last June, according to his court papers.

City News Service

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