YOU ARE HERE: Glendale HomeCollections

Burbank officer in lawsuit is fired

May 01, 2010|By Christopher Cadelago

DOWNTOWN — A 22-year veteran of the Burbank Police Department who was among the most visible plaintiffs in a discrimination lawsuit against the city has been terminated.

City records show that Lt. Omar Rodriguez was on the payroll until April 15. He was the highest ranking officer to sue on the grounds that he faced racial discrimination, and that it was retaliatory to place him on leave after he complained of an improper relationship between the union and chief.

But Rodriguez was one of 12 officers whose records were subpoenaed as part of an FBI probe into excessive use of force and misconduct.


He was also among a group of at least 10 officers who have been issued letters notifying them of proposed discipline, including termination, following a separate probe that centered on the 2007 robbery of Porto’s Bakery.

A representative for Rodriguez’s attorney, Solomon Gresen, said he was unavailable for comment. City officials declined to comment, citing workplace privacy laws.

Det. Mike Parrinello, president of the Burbank Police Officers’ Assn., cautioned against making assumptions as to where the city is in the discipline process.

It was up to the union now, he said, to ensure Rodriguez’s rights were upheld.

“Obviously we’re very sorry for Omar [Rodriguez] and his family,” Parrinello said. “They’ve been proud members of our Burbank Police Department for a long, long time. We don’t want to see any of our members and their families facing these types of situations.”

Results of the probe were reviewed by members of the city attorney’s office, outside attorney Richard Kreisler, Merrick Bobb — a veteran of the Christopher Commission, which was set up to address the Rodney King beating — and former U.S. Atty. Debra Wong Yang.

If Police Chief Scott LaChasse determines that it was 51% likely that officers committed the alleged acts, they would be found guilty.

The disciplined officer could then take legal action against the city or appeal to an arbitrator, who would make their recommendation to City Manager Mike Flad, officials said.

In November, Det. Angelo Dahlia filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. Central District Court alleging that he was harassed by officers, including Rodriguez, after he witnessed the lieutenant place the barrel of his handgun under a suspect’s eye and threaten him.

In his only public comments since the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department, FBI and the city launched investigations into the Police Department last year, Rodriguez called for then-Chief Tim Stehr to resign his post and alleged that the city was engaged in a cover-up.

Glendale News-Press Articles Glendale News-Press Articles