“Without a doubt, the San Diego Police Department does not tolerate officers who cross the thin blue line,” attorney Dan Gilleon, who filed both of the lawsuits, stated. “They absolutely punish anyone who has the courage and ethics to speak out against wrongdoing, and even criminal acts.”
While they have not commented on the case, a spokesperson told the Los Angeles Times that the department has strict rules against perjury and other legal violations.
“The San Diego Police Department does not tolerate employee misconduct at any level,” Lt. Scott Wahl said in a statement to the paper. “We have a mandatory reporting policy, requiring immediate action should any member become aware of misconduct.”
The first of the two lawsuits was originally filed in 2014 by detective Dana Hoover, who claimed that she was retaliated against, including being transferred, after emailing supervisors to raise issues she had witnessed. One of the violations she noted concerned another detective making “false statements” as a witness during a murder trial. She claimed that the detective lied to the jury in claiming that a defendant, Aron Franklin, had been picked out by a witness in a lineup.
Hoover wrote that the other detective, “testified that the witness identified the suspect at the conclusion of the interview.”
“That was not true. The witness did not identify the suspect, at all,” she said in the email to her supervisors.
During the lineup, the witness had actually stated that it was “none of them.”
“Number five is the only one that looks almost like the subject, but no. No one is the suspect,” lineup notes at the time quoted the witness as saying.
The district attorney’s office has refused to reopen the case, despite the new allegations of perjury.
“People v. Franklin was appealed, and the conviction was affirmed on appeal,” spokesman Steve Walker told the LA Times.
The second, unrelated, retaliation lawsuit was filed by lieutenant Natalie Stone last year. Her suit alleged that she was demoted and denied promotion after reporting bullying by her supervisor, police captain Brian Ahearn.
The lawsuit accused Ahearn of creating a hostile work environment by frequently having “loud outbursts, yelling, pounding his hands and fists on the desk and flailing hand gestures.”
“Any situation where there is real or perceived retaliation against whistleblowers can be very corrosive to relationships between police departments and the communities they serve, as we saw in the LAPD Rampart scandal,” National Association for Civilian Oversight of Law Enforcement president Brian Corr said.