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``Whistle Blower'' Lawsuit Filed by Edelberg & Espina to Change ``Police Culture'' Within the LAPD.

City Desks

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Oct. 8, 2002

Decrying a "police culture" within the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) that overlooks criminal acts and corruption by those in favor while punishing those who tell the truth, Lieutenant Kathleen Ann Sheehan, a 22-year veteran LAPD officer, today filed a lawsuit against the department and others for alleged negative treatment she has received in the wake of her reporting alleged violations by former Chief Willie Williams.

Named in the lawsuit, which was filed in the California Superior Court in San Fernando were the: LAPD, City of Los Angeles, Los Angeles Police Commission Board, former LAPD Police Chiefs Willie Williams and Bernard Parks, and current Deputy Chiefs Willie Pannell and J.I. Davis. Causes of action listed in the lawsuit, included: retaliation -- whistle blowing, gender/sex discrimination, defamation, intentional infliction of emotional distress, negligent hiring, negligent training, negligent supervision and retention and conspiracy to violate civil rights.

In her lawsuit, Lt. Sheehan contends that she was downgraded and has been passed over numerous times for promotion because of her reviews of the Rampart and Foothill Divisions and for reporting to the Los Angeles Police Commission that former Chief Williams was involved in alleged acts of misconduct. These included theft, extortive conduct, mismanagement of funds, receiving favors and gifts and abuse of power. She also alleges that since 1997, she has been subjected to a campaign of verbal and physical harassment, intimidation, rumor mongering and complaints about her work, chiefly from former Chief Parks and Deputy Chief Pannell.

Stressing that she loves the Los Angeles Police Department and plans to continue serving it, Lt. Sheehan remarked: "With a new administration about to take over, the department has a real opportunity to treat its employees and the public better and to bring out the wrong that has occurred so it can be corrected. What happened to me was devastating as a human being and damaging to the department as a whole. To meet the new chief's goals, a major overhaul of our `culture' is imperative."

According to Sherwin C. Edelberg of the Los Angeles (Encino) law firm of Edelberg & Espina, which filed the lawsuit on behalf of Lt. Sheehan, the lawsuit seeks general, consequential, exemplary, special and punitive damages. In addition, it also seeks the court to order the defendants to cease and desist from their unlawful activities, to comply with consent decrees and to prohibit them from further violating Lt. Sheehan's civil rights and protected activities.

Edelberg commented: "The Los Angeles Police Department Administration historically has a pattern and practice of moral corruption, favoritism, protectionism, retaliation and civil rights violations including discrimination and harassment on the basis of sex. Even with consent decrees in place to cease and desist these unlawful activities, this pattern and practice continues to exist to the present."

At a news conference held this morning to announce the lawsuit, Attorney Claire N. Espina emphasized that Lt. Sheehan was one of the "rising stars" of the LAPD before being branded as a "whistle blower." She noted that Lt. Sheehan had always received "outstanding" ratings and was given positions of prestige and respect far beyond her rank and tenure as evidenced by the fact that early in her career she was Executive Officer to both LAPD Police Chiefs Darryl Gates and Williams.

Ms. Espina pointed out that the pattern of abuse and harassment of Lt. Sheehan began in 1997 after it became known that she reported Chief Williams' alleged violations. Branded as "disloyal" to the chief, she said Lt. Sheehan was subsequently passed over for numerous promotions and ultimately demoted from Lieutenant Second Grade to Lieutenant First Grade after numerous negative reports filed or authorized by Parks, Pannell and Davis.

At one point, Ms. Espina added, Lt. Sheehan submitted a complaint to the LAPD Inspector General, and she was advised to contact the Los Angeles Police Commission, which she did. The commission advised her that it did not get involved in promotions or downgrades of officers.

Prior to reporting Chief Williams' violations, Ms. Espina said Lt. Sheehan was instrumental in seeking to deter other forms of violations within the department. Before the Rodney King incident, while in charge of the Use of Force Review Section, she warned the Patrol Captain of the Foothill Division that there was a major problem regarding use of force within the division. Later, she researched and reviewed the Rampart Division and recommended that officers needed training and discipline in areas that ultimately were abused and later resulted in a major scandal.

Lt. Sheehan currently serves as a Watch Commander in the LAPD's North Hollywood Division.
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Date:Oct 8, 2002
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