A jury Thursday ordered the city of South Pasadena to pay nearly $4.8 million to a former police officer who said he was discriminated against because of his disabilities and fired on false allegations of being dishonest.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for about a day before finding in favor of Timothy Patrick Green, who said a department captain had a long-standing prejudice against him because of the plaintiff’s dyslexia and attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder.
The jury awarded Green $4 million for his pain and suffering and another $772,000 for lost income.
“It’s fantastic,” the 57-year-old Green said of the verdict. “The truth finally came out.”
Asked if he would ever recommend that anyone work as an officer with the South Pasadena Police Department, Green replied, “Not under the current management.”
Michael Miller, one of Green’s attorneys, said his client was known as “Father Pat” because of his priest-like demeanor when dealing with citizens and that he once talked a girl out of committing suicide.
Miller said Green also was an early believer in community policing. But the false allegations of dishonesty against Green have made it impossible to get a job as an officer in another department, according to Miller.
Elizabeth Kessel, an attorney for the city, did not return a call for comment.
Green worked as a reserve officer for the city from 1987 until 1995, when he was hired as a police officer. The city’s allegations of untruthfulness by Green stemmed from a traffic stop he made on a driver at about 5 a.m. Jan. 31, 2012 for allegedly speeding, Green’s court papers stated.
Green got out of his car, but was alerted by what he thought were silhouettes of one or more people at a middle school across the street, the former officer’s court papers stated. Believing the school issue to be more important, he told the motorist to drive safely and drove over to the school to see if anything suspicious was happening, his court papers stated.
The driver left the scene and Green, satisfied that there was no one on the school grounds, went about his normal duties, his court papers stated. However, the driver, who allegedly had been drinking before the traffic stop, went to the police station later that day because his girlfriend believed he could be arrested for leaving the scene without permission while Green was checking out the school, Green’s court papers stated.
The captain in charge that day was hostile to Green because of his disabilities and sent a sergeant out to talk to the driver, who admitted to being involved in a hit-run before he was stopped by Green, the plaintiff’s court papers stated. Green told the sergeant during an interview that he did not see the damage on the front of the driver’s car from the hit-run because he never stepped beyond the back of the vehicle, Green’s court papers stated.
Although the sergeant concluded Green did nothing wrong, the captain insisted that the plaintiff be interviewed again, Green’s court papers stated. But the sergeant came to the same conclusion after the second interview, Green’s court papers stated.
The captain “had no rational basis for believing that plaintiff was aware that (the driver) had been in a hit-and-run or was drunk,” Green’s court papers stated.
On the other hand, the captain “had known for two decades that plaintiff had ADHD and dyslexia,” Green’s court papers stated.
In November 2012, then-Chief Joseph Payne rejected the dishonesty allegations against Green, but approved a neglect-of-duty charge and two months later imposed a six-day suspension that was later reduced to three days and stayed pending Green’s completion of learning disability training, Green’s court papers stated.
However, the next month Payne left the department and was replaced by Chief Arthur Miller, a former Los Angeles police captain who reviewed Green’s file and concluded he was dishonest when he said he never saw the damage on the front of the driver’s car during the traffic stop, the city’s court papers stated.
In August 2013, the city accepted the new chief’s recommendation and fired Green, according to the city’s court papers.
“As stated in the notice of termination, dishonesty is a serious allegation against a peace officer and sustaining of the allegation requires dismissal,” the city’s court papers stated.
In a sworn statement, the chief said he believed that Green’s statement that he was more concerned about the suspicious circumstances at the school than he was about the motorist he stopped was false given that the officer did not report the matter to the police dispatch or request assistance.
The chief, who was present daily during the trial of Green’s lawsuit, became a familiar face this summer during media coverage of the arrest of Aramazd Andressian Sr. in the death of the latter’s 5-year-old son, Aramazd Andressian Jr. The father, a South Pasadena resident, pleaded guilty to first- degree murder and was sentenced in August to 25 years to life in prison.
–City News Service