LOS ANGELES – A jury Friday rejected a sheriff’s lieutenant’s lawsuit against Los Angeles County in which he alleged he was wrongfully denied an interview for promotion to captain of the Compton sheriff’s station for reporting that deputies at the station had engaged in a work slowdown.
Lt. Larry Waldie also alleged in his Los Angeles Superior Court suit that he was targeted and demoted after he spoke out against what he said was the undue influence at the Compton station of an internal subgroup of deputies known as the Executioners when he was acting captain there. During trial, a deputy called to testify rolled up his pants and showed his own tattoo that is allegedly sported by some Executioners members, a helmeted skeleton holding a rifle.
The jury deliberated for less than a day before reaching its verdict in the retaliation case. The panel found 12-0 that Waldie engaged in whistleblowing activity, but that it was not a substantial factor in how he was treated.
Attorneys for the county maintained there was no work slowdown and that Waldie was insulted at not being selected for the captain position, which was given instead to someone with 10 years more experience. They also said the alleged deputy gang issue had nothing to do with the case.
But Waldie maintained he was the most qualified candidate for the position of permanent captain of Compton Station when he applied in August 2019. He also contended the county violated its own charter and a civil service rule by not filling the position with him as the most qualified candidate.
Waldie also maintained he suffered further retaliation when the LASD allegedly blocked any transfer or promotional opportunities because he filed a grievance in September 2019.
Waldie testified extensively in the case, as did former Sheriff Alex Villanueva, who was criticized during his time in office for allegedly not doing enough to address the deputy gang issue.
New Sheriff Robert Luna vowed to crack down on deputy gangs within the department. He recently ordered deputies to comply with a directive sent to some department members by the Office of the Inspector General, requiring them to answer questions about their potential involvement in such gangs and to show any tattoos they may have indicating affiliation with the groups.
The deputies’ union — the Association for Los Angeles Deputy Sheriffs — filed a legal action late last month challenging the directive as a potential violation of constitutional rights. It also contended the issue should have first been subject to bargaining with the union.
A hearing on that matter is scheduled for Aug. 8.