By BILL HETHERMAN
LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles police captain testified Tuesday that her frustration and anxiety grew when it seemed to her that management was unconcerned about the widespread department distribution of a photo of a nude woman that resembled but was not her, causing her cardiologist to double her blood pressure medication.
“Part of me felt like I was being gaslighted by the department,” Capt. Lillian Carranza told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury hearing the trial of her lawsuit against the city.
Carranza said that when in the workplace, she wondered to herself if people glancing at their phones were looking at the photo. She said she also felt that her colleagues were stepping aside to avoid her.
“I had a feeling of helplessness, abandonment and betrayal,” the 33- year Los Angeles Police Department veteran said.
Carranza alleges in her suit filed in January 2019 that the department did not do enough to prevent the emotional distress she said she continues to suffer since being told about the photo in November 2018, including the LAPD’s denial of her request that a department-wide statement be put out confirming that she was not the person in the photo.
Chief Michel Moore testified Thursday that distributing such a statement would have informed officers who knew nothing about the photo and generated curiosity in it, therefore doing more harm than good.
At the time, Carranza commanded the Commercial Crimes Division and now leads the Gang and Narcotics Division. She testified that her attorney, Gregory Smith, phoned her while she was on what was intended to be a week-long vacation in Puerto Vallarta to tell her about the photo, prompting her to cut the vacation short and return to Los Angeles.
“I was very hurt and confused,” Carranza said. “It was a mixed bag of feelings.”
The captain said her stress increased when she learned from a subordinate, Detective Alfsono Munoz, that the image was being shown on a phone among some officers, some of whom Munoz previously testified were joking about it.
Carranza said she was interviewed by now-retired Detective Stacey Gray as part of an investigation, but that Gray seemed intent on only identifying the source of the photo, which has still not been determined.
Former Deputy Chief Debra McCarthy, who also is now retired, told Carranza that the probe was being taken seriously, but the plaintiff said the comment was not reassuring.
“They seemed to lack a sense of urgency,” Carranza said.
Carranza said she spent Christmas Eve in 2018 in the hospital because her stress caused her a shortness of breath, heart palpitations and a rise in blood pressure.
“I was very upset by the lack of action by the department,” Carranza said. “Nothing was being done.”
Carranza’s cardiologist eventually doubled her blood pressure prescription, the captain said.
Carranza said that although she separated from her husband in 2013, she does not feel stress from the breakup. She said some stress resulted from her back and neck surgeries prior to the revelation of the photo, but that her emotional distress escalated substantially when she found out about the image that was purported to be of her.