No Reinstatement for Cop|Who Befriended Hooker

     (CN) – A Los Angeles sheriff’s deputy was rightfully fired for associating with a “known prostitute and heroin addict,” a California appeals court ruled.




     Emir Bautista sued Los Angeles County, issuing a constitutional challenge to the sheriff department’s prohibited-association policy. He claimed violations of his federal civil rights and his First and 14th Amendment rights.
     Bautista became friends with the prostitute, Shawn Crook, after approaching her to talk about why she resorted to prostitution. He also took her to dinner and drove her to the methadone clinic where she was being treated for heroin addiction.
     A Gardena police sergeant and two lieutenants separately witnessed Bautista and Crook together, and they advised against the relationship because it could cost Bautista his job. Crook told the officers that she was just friends with Bautista and added that she wanted a dating relationship.
     Days after these interactions with the Gardena police, Bautista and Crook moved in together and are now married. Crook gave up prostitution and recovered from her addiction.
     While Bautista saved Crook from a life of prostitution, he was unable to save his job.
     Both the trial court and the Los Angeles-based second district appeals court refused to overturn Bautista’s firing.
     “The [sheriff’s’] department has a legitimate interest in regulating the behavior of its sworn officers to minimize conflicts of interests and protect the credibility and integrity of the department,” Judge Dennis Perluss wrote for the appellate court.
     Perluss cited the testimony of the chief of the department’s court services division, who said Bautista’s relationship embarrassed the department and undermined its reputation.

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