LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles Police Department captain recently awarded $4 million by jurors who found she was harassed by the internal circulation of a photo of a nude woman falsely purported to be her is the focus of a lawsuit filed Tuesday by a detective who alleges the captain targeted the plaintiff for harassment.
Detective Cecilia Cleveland’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges whistleblower retaliation, harassment, discrimination and failure to prevent discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Despite Cleveland’s allegations against Capt. Lillian Carranza, the captain is not a named defendant in the detective’s suit, which seeks unspecified damages.
Carranza won her own harassment case on Sept. 30.
“This is a case where an LAPD captain has caused havoc throughout the Los Angeles Police Department, sinking her teeth into one hapless victim after another,” the suit states. “Cecilia is the latest in a long line of victims suffering with discrimination, harassment and retaliation.”
A representative for the City Attorney’s Office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
Cleveland, like Carranza a 33-year LAPD veteran, was assigned to the Gang and Narcotics Division from 2006-22 and had a positive experience there until Carranza became her boss in October 2021, the suit states.
After Carranza’s arrival, Cleveland was humiliated, demeaned and set up for failure by disparate treatment, according to the suit, which further alleges Carranza “is well known to attack and retaliate against different employees, including those of different races or national origins than her.”
During the first month of Carranza’s arrival, the captain issued Cleveland a notice-to-correct and placed her on a 90-day special review after hearing the plaintiff use an expletive, falsely claiming it was uttered in a disrespectful way, the suit states.
Cleveland refused to sign the notice and filed an internal grievance, the suit states. Thereafter, Carranza focused on Cleveland and harassed her, in one instance ordering a lieutenant under her command to move the plaintiff’s desk to an area where the scent of police dog urine and defecation was evident, the suit states.
After intentionally leaving the unit so short-staffed last December that the work could not be completed, Carranza and the lieutenant questioned Cleveland’s alleged lack of productivity and why supervisor log entries were supposedly so thin, according to the suit.
Carranza filed a total of three personnel complaints against Cleveland with an additional allegation of conduct unbecoming of an officer, the first time the plaintiff had encountered such negative disciplinary actions since joining her unit, the suit states.
The city’s Employee Relations Group mediated the Cleveland-Carranza dispute and all disciplinary actions were either rescinded or downgraded, but the retaliation continued, the suit states. Cleveland was forced to leave her coveted assignment in order to avoid further discipline due to Carranza’s alleged actions and the plaintiff also was demoted, the suit alleges.
Cleveland has suffered economic damages as well as emotional distress, the suit states.