Pubdate: Fri, 26 Jan 2001
Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)
Copyright: 2001 San Jose Mercury News
Contact:  750 Ridder Park Drive, San Jose, CA 95190
Fax: (408) 271-3792
Author: Paul Chavez
Note: Subjectline shortened by MAP


LOS ANGELES -- A lawsuit against the police department claims nearly
200 officers were punished for reporting misconduct and illegal activities.

The lawsuit, which alleges the officers suffered discrimination,
harassment and other forms of retaliation for whistle-blowing, seeks
class-action status. A federal judge was scheduled to hold a hearing
on the issue today.

``Some of these officers reported beatings of homeless people, the
killing of homeless people and the planting of drugs on innocent
suspects,'' attorney Bradley Gage of Woodland Hills told a press
conference Thursday.

The lawsuit is not specifically linked to the Rampart corruption case
in which officers are alleged to have framed innocent people, but the
plaintiffs claim that a ``code of silence'' throughout the department
contributed to that scandal.

Officer Jason Lee, a department spokesman, said police officials would
not comment on the pending lawsuit, which names the department, Chief
Bernard Parks and several high-ranking city officials as defendants.

The police department and city attorney's office have not handed over
documents and reports related to the lawsuit, Gage said.

An assistant city attorney in the police employment law section said
the documents have not been released because the court has ordered a
stay until more information is gathered from the plaintiffs.

``We don't know who the bona fide plaintiffs are,'' Assistant City
Attorney Jess J. Gonzalez said. ``We have at least four or five people
who have told us they don't want to be members of this case.''

The city's lawyers will ask U.S. District Court Judge Florence-Marie
Cooper to continue the stay until all the plaintiffs are identified,
Gonzalez said.

``We'll cooperate with the process when the process is done right,''
Gonzalez said. ``We don't think it's been done right in this case.''

Some of the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit already are involved in
other lawsuits or have had their cases previously settled, Gonzalez

The lawsuit was originally filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court
in August, but has since been amended to add more plaintiffs and has
been moved to federal court.

The lawsuit fell under federal jurisdiction, Gage said, because the
complaints include civil rights and discrimination claims covered
under federal code. The lawsuit also alleges the police department has
liability under the federal Racketeering Influenced and Corrupt
Organizations Act.
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MAP posted-by: Derek