LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles police officer is suing the city, alleging he experienced backlash for complaining about what he maintains was an attempt by City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez to interfere with his attempt to serve a search warrant on a marijuana business.
Senior Lead Officer Cesar Contreras filed the retaliation suit Wednesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, seeking unspecified damages. Rodriguez is not a defendant in the complaint.
“Plaintiff was retaliated against for identifying and reporting what he believed to be violations of state and federal law and the state and federal constitutions,” the suit states.
Through a representative, Rodriguez issued a statement Friday regarding the suit.
“I do not comment on ongoing litigation,” Rodriguez said.
In November 2020, Contreras was serving a search warrant on a business in which the owner had previously been arrested for operating an unlicensed marijuana dispensary, the suit states. The businessman later obtained the only two licenses for selling marijuana in Rodriguez’s District 7, according to the suit.
That day, an LAPD captain briefed Rodriguez about the warrants, the suit states. The business owner subsequently told Contreras that Rodriguez had informed him about the warrants, according to the suit.
Contreras reported to the captain what he believed to be an obstruction of justice on Rodriguez’s part, the suit states.
“To protect City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez and in violation of LAPD policy, (the captain) refused to take any action on the misconduct reported,” the suit alleges.
After Contreras spoke during a city-related meeting in December 2020, Rodriguez approached him and stated that he had “slandered her name and reported it to the LAPD,” according to the suit, which further states her alleged comment was “the first act of retaliation taken by Councilwoman Rodriguez.”
After a subsequent city meeting, Rodriguez again approached Contreras and “threatened that she could have a conversation with the chief of police and have plaintiff gone,” the suit states.
In the summer of 2021, Contreras told another LAPD captain about Rodriguez’s alleged remarks and his obstruction of justice accusations were reported to the FBI, the suit states. But in further alleged retaliation, the first captain told Contreras that his career was “now in danger,” the suit states.
Contreras was put under heightened scrutiny in August 2021 after Rodriguez alleged he was not doing his job in following up on issues raised by the public, the suit states. A meeting was held with members of the public whom Rodriguez alleged had issues, but they did not corroborate the councilwoman’s allegations against the plaintiff, according to the suit.
Late last year, yet another captain told Contreras his “head was on a chopping block,” according to the suit, which further states that a deputy chief told Contreras that he “better fly straight” or he “would be gone.”
Contreras alleges he was removed from District 7 in January 2022 after Rodriguez demanded his transfer, even though he had worked there for six years, the suit states. Another deputy chief told him the move was attributable to Contreras not arresting a homeless person and a panhandler near a supermarket, the suit states.
Contreras continues to experience retaliation, which has affected his health and impacted his police career, the suit states.