Lawsuit alleges racism at East LA Station
A Black Los Angeles County sheriff's sergeant who sued the county, alleging he was subjected to retaliation for complaining of discrimination because of his race as well as the presence of members of the “Banditos” internal clique of deputies at the East Los Angeles Station, can move forward with his complaint, a judge ruled this week.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Upinder S. Kalra denied a motion by county attorneys to dismiss two of Sgt. Reginald Hoffman's five causes of action, for harassment as well as one of his two retaliation claims. The county's motion did not challenge his discrimination allegations.
Hoffman's alleged harassment may have been due to his race as he was not promoted despite allegedly being more qualified than Latinos who were elevated, according to the judge, who also noted that Hoffman believed his promotional setbacks were in retaliation for his reporting of misconduct by other deputies.
Hoffman is one of many LASD employees claiming to be victims of retaliation for speaking out against alleged discrimination, adding himself to the list of other department members who also have filed litigation claiming to be whistleblowers, including Lt. Joseph Garrido, Cmdr. Allen Castellano, former Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon and retired Chief LaJuana Haselrig. Hoffman maintains his complaints about the presence of the “Banditos'' at the East Los Angeles Station ultimately caused 17 members of the alleged internal clique of deputies to be transferred.
“Sgt. Hoffman blew the whistle ... about the gang's illegal activity and continued dominance at the station,” the suit states.
Although former Sheriff Alex Villanueva is not a defendant in the suit, Hoffman’s complaint alleges the ex-sheriff was “waging a race war” against Black LASD members and had “engaged in grand scale racial discrimination” against Blacks who want to be hired.
Racism has “long permeated the culture in LASD” and Villanueva “inflamed it,” the suit alleges.