Beef With LAPD Chief Deemed a State Case

     LOS ANGELES (CN) — A federal judge on Monday dismissed a police union’s claim that Los Angeles Police Chief Charlie Beck pressures captains on disciplinary boards to fire officers and threatens those that don’t cave to his demands, but said the union could refile in state court.
     At an afternoon hearing, U.S. District Judge John Walter dismissed the union’s due process claim under the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution but ruled the union could take the state-law claims to Los Angeles County Superior Court.
     “This really is a state case,” Walter told the union’s attorney Gregg Adam.
     Deputy City Attorney Benjamin Chapman asked Walter for a chance to persuade him that all the union’s claims should be thrown out. But Walter declined.
     “No. You’re not going to do that,” the judge said.
     In May, the Los Angeles Police Protective League sued the city of Los Angeles and Beck. The union, which represents 9,000 LAPD officers, says the independent Board of Rights panel, which handles officer disciplinary proceedings, is corrupted and that commanders who sit on it are beholden to the chief.
     Beck denies the allegations.
     The union says the board hears allegations against officers only when Beck has already concluded that they are guilty of misconduct, and that the chief pressured several captains to fire officers appearing before the board and retaliated against them if they disagreed.
     According to the union, one captain was warned after he went against Beck that the chief weighs officers’ decisions on the board when considering promotions. Another officer said he learned that Beck was “disappointed” by a ruling against the chief and would receive training on how to handle future disciplinary hearings.
     Several captains heard “board-eligible officers indicate their intent to find an officer guilty simply because the chief wanted them to do so,” the union says in the complaint.
     Beck told KNX radio in May that in past five years there have been 26 not-guilty rulings in 184 Board of Rights cases. In 64 cases, guilty findings included a penalty that did not lead to firing, the chief said.
     “If it’s a system that I’m corrupting, then I’m not doing a very good job of it,” Beck said.
     After the hearing on Monday, neither side seemed satisfied with Walter’s ruling.
     Chapman said he was not surprised the judge had allowed the union to dismiss the state-law claims but said that the case is without merit.
     “I thought he was very fair to let them do what they did,” Chapmen said of the decision to dismiss without prejudice and let the union refile the case in state court.
     After the hearing, Adam said he disagreed with Walter’s ruling and said there were enough clearly identifiable allegations under civil rights law for the case to remain in Federal Court.
     The Messing Adam & Jasmine attorney confirmed the union would file the case in state court.

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