LOS ANGELES – A Los Angeles police officer is suing the city, alleging management took career-damaging steps against him to keep him quiet about purported illegal quotas that commanders ostensibly established to increase specific crime statistics involving guns and gangs.
Officer John Walker’s Los Angeles Superior Court retaliation suit, filed Wednesday, seeks unspecified damages. A representative for the City Attorney’s Office issued a statement Thursday regarding the suit.
“We will review the complaint and have no further comment at this time,” the statement read.
Walker is a 13-year LAPD veteran who was assigned to Metro Division in 2015 after applying for and being selected to a coveted position on the SWAT team, the suit states.
However, Walker’s career was “irreparably harmed” when the department allegedly retaliated against him beginning in January 2020 by ordering him to remain at home, removing his police powers, stripping him of his gun and serving him notice of an intent to downgrade his LAPD position, the suit alleges.
The problems for Walker began when in 2015, as part of a Metro expansion by then-Chief Charlie Beck. Walker and other LAPD officers began to be pressured to increase the production of specific crime statistics, the suit states..
The command staff ordered that Walker and the other Metro officers report higher numbers of contacts with gang members, make more gun-related arrests and seizures and take more gang members into custody, the suit alleges.
“The clear message to (Walker) from the department and its various levels of command staff was that officers needed to make more arrests related to gangsters and guns,” the suit states.
In roll calls and briefings, it was “all about the guns” the arrest numbers, according to the suit, which further alleges that “minimums had to be met.”
At Metro, if an officer went more than a day or two without producing a gang or gun arrest, commanders made it clear that the officer’s production needed to increase, the suit alleges.
“This was part of the methodology used to send and enforce the message: `Do as we say regarding our demands of arrests … or you are done here,”‘ the suit states
Metro officers with more gang arrests had the best chance to be promoted, the suit states.
Requiring specific numbers of certain types of arrests violates the arrest quota in the state Vehicle Code and also potentially violates other due process and constitutional requirements, the suit states.
The LAPD’s decision to allegedly retaliate against Walker and other officers was done to send a message to the entire Metro officer population to be quiet and to not speak out regarding the potentially unlawful policies and practices in Metro of “pressuring/ordering/requiring” officers to increase the statistics of identifying gang members and making gang- and gun-related arrests,” the suit states.
Walker’s position was not downgraded and believes the reason for that is the LAPD “realized that it acted hastily and improperly,” the suit states
Nonetheless, the other elements of the alleged LAPD retaliation has damaged Walker’s reputation, his ability to promote and his chances to be selected for other units and specialized assignments, the suit states.
“The retaliation will cause (Walker) to have to take a different career and retirement path … and will adversely affect his income, pension and other benefits,” the suit states.
Walker’s health also has been adversely impacted, according to the suit.