BURBANK, CA – The former president of the Burbank police union filed a lawsuit against the city claiming he was fired in retaliation for disclosing illegal conduct by the department, including the use of arrest quotas and false police reports, court records show.
Mark Armendariz, who joined the Burbank Police Department in 2002 and served as president of the Burbank Police Officers’ Assn. for two years, claimed he was fired last July in retaliation after voicing criticism of leadership in the department and refusing to participate in illegal activities such as arrest quotas, according to the complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.
Burbank City Atty. Amy Albano on Friday denied the claims in the lawsuit, but declined to divulge why Armendariz was fired.
“We don’t agree with the assertions in the complaint at all,” Albano said. “There was no retaliation.”
Armendariz was critical in recent years of the department’s leadership, speaking up against scheduling and staffing decisions, the extension of temporary contracts for captains and the permanent appointment of Scott LaChasse as police chief last year “without the use of an appropriate selection process,” according to the lawsuit.
Three years ago, Armendariz filed a grievance with LaChasse, contending that reorganization of the patrol and investigative divisions at the time reduced staffing levels to the point where it was affecting officer response times and causing distress among employees.
Last year, he called it “disappointing” when city officials abandoned the police-chief recruitment process that they had started the year before, and instead appointed LaChasse.
In the lawsuit, Armendariz argued that after voicing his complaints, he was discriminated against, given negative evaluations, subjected to unfounded, fabricated charges of misconduct and internal affairs investigations, received excessive suspensions and was ultimately terminated.
Armendariz is seeking an unspecified amount of damages, as well as $25,000 in civil penalties to be assessed against the city. He’s also asking to be reinstated as a sworn officer.
His attorney Diana Wang Wells said she could not comment on the lawsuit.
In the past, however, Armendariz’s attorney Christopher Brizzolara has said that the city had no legitimate reason to fire the officer.
“He was a good officer for the department,” Brizzolara said at the time. “I look forward to the city of Burbank explaining what the reasons were.”
From The Burbank Leader