Los Angeles police officer Steven Ruiz, who had some bumps in his lengthy law enforcement career, is suing his former employer due to a demotion.
The former LAPD captain was allegedly demoted after he refused to fire a police officer, and then demoted again. He had been the top commander in LAPD’s Rampart station.
“The LAPD doesn’t always seem to play fair in its internal discipline system, which can jeopardize the constitutional and employment rights of their officers,” Matthew McNicholas, the officer’s attorney, said in a statement. “We believe this suit demonstrates that Chief Charlie Beck can play favorites and ignore the Department’s established procedures.”
Ruiz was demoted from Captain III to Captain I, and then demoted to Lieutenant. His attorney claims the demotion “was in retaliation for refusing to violate the rights of fellow officers at an administrative tribunal proceeding over which he presided, contrary to the wishes of Beck.”
In 2011, Ruiz presided over a Board of Rights proceeding. Ruiz was verbally reprimanded by an assistant chief, believed to be Earl Paysinger, for recommending a lesser penalty and not terminating an officer. He was later demoted to Lieutenant by Paysinger.
“It’s a widely or at least somewhat-held belief that officers referred to the Board of Rights by Chief Charlie Beck are being sent to be terminated, a contention echoed in the suit,” the LA Weekly reported.
Ruiz was cited on May 30, 2013, for driving under the influence while off-duty, an incident that could have resulted in his demotion. However Ruiz’s attorney says that, Captain Edward Prokop of Newton Division was also stopped in Riverside for driving under the influence and that “various sources of information indicate that … Prokop was not demoted for the situation.”
In fact, police officers who receive a DUI usually get only a “conditional official reprimand,” a hearing, and treatment, according to a report from LA Weekly.
Ruiz claims he suffered, “… physical, mental, and emotional injuries, pain, distress, suffering, anguish, fright, nervousness, grief, anxiety, worry, shame, mortification, injured feelings, shock, humiliation and indignity, as well as other unpleasant physical, mental, and emotional reactions, damages to reputation, and other non-economic damages.”
The LAPD has declined to comment on the pending litigation.