LAPD too hard on its cops, so cops sue (and win).

Wednesday, May 11th, 2011

If I’m reading this LA Times opinion piece correctly, it sounds like cops who have been disciplined for use of excessive force are retaliating by suing the city.

In years past, [the city] would often pay judgments or settlements in connection with accusations of police misconduct but then never bother to investigate whether the misconduct occurred. Thanks to the consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice, those cases began to be investigated — and continue to be, even though the decree is no longer in force. That allows the department to discipline or fire those who committed the abuses.

So, the increase in investigations resulted in more cops being disciplined, which led to more lawsuits by cops against the city.  And apparently they have been winning enough of them to have cost the city $18 million since 2005.

Have we entered the Twilight Zone?  This doesn’t fit in with my assumption that cops always protect their own, permitting bad cops to get off too easily if they get any discipline at all.  This sounds like the opposite; like cops are  being victimized by overzealous disciplinary actions in response to accusations of misbehavior.

Or maybe it’s really a story about scapegoats who are now receiving justice.

[Posted by Dave Krueger]

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16 Responses to “LAPD too hard on its cops, so cops sue (and win).”

  1. #1 |  ktc2 | 

    If they are indeed winning hopefully it’s honest cops who got booted for doing the right thing and reporting / testifying against the bad cops.

  2. #2 |  gottabeKiddingme | 

    Hmmm….not sure how you drew some of your conclusions there Mr. K. I don’t see where an increase of investigations started this. Seems like it starts with citizen complaints which are escalated to court. Investigations are called for as uncontested settlements have been the habit of the past.

    I think this does indeed reinforce the “thin blue line” standing together no matter what. Municipalities use settlements to AVOID investigations and publicity, and settlements routinely carry agreements that stipulate the complaining party not speak of the events or the settlement in the future. They are buying silence. And it’s been a winning strategy for cops too! In most jurisdictions it’s almost impossible to secure a jury verdict against a cop. In LA as we see and read, the public is significantly better informed about the reality of law enforcement today with it’s emphasis on full-spectrum domination and pain compliance.

    Never fear however. I’m sure the PBS and police unions will always be there to insist that ALL ACTIONS BY COPS ARE WITHIN DEPARTMENTAL POLICY ad nausea. And to loudly extol the virtues of heroic officers putting their lives on the line as they beat up females, children and innocent onlookers.

    Perhaps my viewpoint is shaped by reported news and external events. Judging from my own experience, the officer used to be your friend in times of trouble. Now you risk your life and the lives of others by dialing 911. Calling out the dogs get you bit.

  3. #3 |  Brian | 

    Don’t you know everyone in Shawshank is innocent?

  4. #4 |  lunchstealer | 

    Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck Fuck

    That one’s for you, J sub D!

  5. #5 |  Highway | 

    I don’t read it the same way, Dave. It doesn’t say anything about the abuses that cops are being punished for, or the severity of the punishment.

    In fact, the one specific case it talks about, an officer was demoted, which cost him $27,000 in pay. He took the department / city to court, and won a 1 million dollar award. Nothing about what he was found to have done to warrant a demotion, so we can’t even guess at whether that was too harsh on him or whether even that punishment was a creampuff slap on the wrist, that the officer *still* sued over.

    The opinion article seems to give the impression that the LAPD and City are cracking down on police abuses, and that may be true, but it’s not really supported by anything in the article. Nor is it able to be determined what the actual merit of the lawsuits is. They might be “this punishment was totally not supported by the abuse” or they might be “You suspended me in violation of the union agreement that says we have to be given desk work first.”

  6. #6 |  Brandon | 

    Seems more like the cops are tired of the city investigating complaints against them instead of just paying the settlements with no admission of guilt like in the good ol’ days.

  7. #7 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #2 gottabeKiddingme

    I don’t see where an increase of investigations started this.

    The investigations are what led to the discipline that the cops are suing the city over:

    From the article:

    Thanks to the consent decree between the city and the U.S. Department of Justice, those cases began to be investigated — and continue to be, even though the decree is no longer in force. That allows the department to discipline or fire those who committed the abuses.

    #2 gottabeKiddingme

    In most jurisdictions it’s almost impossible to secure a jury verdict against a cop. In LA as we see and read, the public is significantly better informed about the reality of law enforcement today with it’s emphasis on full-spectrum domination and pain compliance.

    The article makes it sound like just the opposite is happening, that LA juries are becoming MORE inclined to believe LAPD and LESS inclined to convict:

    From the article:

    “As the LAPD begins to shed its old reputation for violence, juries that once routinely sided against police officers in cases of alleged excessive force are listening more closely to the department’s arguments.”

  8. #8 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #5 Highway

    The opinion article seems to give the impression that the LAPD and City are cracking down on police abuses, and that may be true, but it’s not really supported by anything in the article. Nor is it able to be determined what the actual merit of the lawsuits is. They might be “this punishment was totally not supported by the abuse” or they might be “You suspended me in violation of the union agreement that says we have to be given desk work first.”

    Yes! It really could be all about lawsuit abuse dressed up to look like cops are being victimized. Not enough info in the article to tell.

  9. #9 |  thomasblair | 

    So, cop beats the fuck out of citizen. Citizen sues city. City pays settlement with taxpayer money. City fires cop. Cop sues city. City pays settlement with taxpayer money.

    The only person consistently taking it in the can is the goddamned taxpayer.

  10. #10 |  SJE | 

    This is not that surprising if you consider that the cases are probably being decided under employment law, which tends to be favorable to the employees. This is why you need lots and lots of documentation to fire someone who is unionized.

  11. #11 |  primus | 

    @SJE; as well you should. Firing someone is a drastic step. One event does not make a pattern. Everyone needs to be led to the right way to do things. If a cop screws up repeatedly and is not amenable to being led to the right way, firing is probably the outcome. That is as it should be. However, if a fired cop sues and gets a sympathetic jury, the cop gets lots of money. This is happening, so the trend will be for the bar for firing to be raised even higher, and more and more cops to sue. Hopefully, juries will perceive the higher bar to be adequate and will ratchet back the awards.

  12. #12 |  Peter | 

    @#7:

    I disagree. I see this as is mob justice combined with a hate of management. I’m sure the police lawyer hired by the union is framing this as “those bureaucrat non-union police managers are unfairly punishing those hard working street cops for violating a minor rule that protects rapists who kill children” and then ask the Jury to vote on “if killing that pedophile was excessive or not” because he mouthed off to the cop. I highly doubt any of the cops who won weren’t guilty; my guess is it was just jury nullification at its worst.

  13. #13 |  JOR | 

    “Yes! It really could be all about lawsuit abuse dressed up to look like cops are being victimized.”

    That would be the safest guess.

  14. #14 |  BoogaFrito | 

    #11 | primus

    Firing someone is a drastic step. One event does not make a pattern.

    Why should a “pattern” even matter? When we’re talking about cops, one incident of misconduct should be enough to release them from employment.

  15. #15 |  Dave Krueger | 

    #14 BoogaFrito

    Why should a “pattern” even matter? When we’re talking about cops, one incident of misconduct should be enough to release them from employment.

    Does an ordinary civilian need to demonstrate a pattern before the cops arrest him and proceed to ruin his life? How does the city handle such a thing. Is there a threshold?

    “Sir, the city is sorry that Officer Jones beat the shit outa you, but our hands were tied. While it’s true he beat the shit out of another guy last week, we didn’t have a pattern so there was nothing we could do. But, you’ll be glad to know it only takes four such beatings to establish that pattern that will allow us to consider firing him, so we’re half way there. On a brighter note, we can speed that process up if he actually kills someone.”

    (The hypothetical is snarky and meant more to be humorous more than a serious rebuttal to any argument.)

  16. #16 |  May 27 roundup | 

    […] Suits filed by its own officers, often those accused of misconduct, have cost LAPD $18 million since 2005 [L.A. Times via Dave Krueger, Agitator] […]

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