Los Angeles has agreed to pay a former police officer nearly $2 million to settle a claim that he was fired and suffered other retaliation after reporting acts of excessive force by other officers. The Los Angeles Times says the City Council approved the payment, along with $2 million to settle eight other lawsuits by L.A. officers who charged similar retaliation plus $2 million in fees for the officers’ attorneys.
Among the cases were an officer’s contention that he lost his job after reporting that an officer planted a gun after a shooting and that another officer struck a pregnant woman in the stomach. Another officer said he was shunned and threatened after testifying that the 1999 fatal shooting of a homeless woman was unnecessary.
A city lawyer urged council members not to let the cases go to trial, warning that the city could face a huge financial risk if jurors were allowed to award damages. “I find the case extraordinarily troubling on many levels,” said Councilman Jack Weiss, who said he wanted the department to explain what happened. Councilman Antonio Villaraigosa asked the city attorney and LAPD leaders to report on how they planned to prevent future lawsuits involving discrimination, retaliation ,and whistle-blowing. “While a major concern is the cost to our taxpayers, I am also concerned about the message it sends … that someone reporting wrongdoing could be punished for it,” Villaraigosa said.
The largest payment went to Warren Brooks, who was fired in December 2002 after spending 15 years at the LAPD and acquiring a reputation for “doing things ‘by the book,’ ” according to the city attorney’s memo.