Judge Rules Deputy Can Take Whistleblower Case to Trial - NBC Southern California

Judge Rules Deputy Can Take Whistleblower Case to Trial

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    Judge Rules Deputy Can Take Whistleblower Case to Trial
    Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

    A veteran sheriff's deputy who sued Los Angeles County, alleging he was subjected to a backlash for reporting that he saw a retired deputy involved in a sex act in a car parked on county property in an area known for prostitution, can take his case to trial, a judge ruled Wednesday.

    Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Maureen Duffy-Lewis ruled there were triable issues in D'Andre Lampkin's suit, which was filed in August 2017 and alleges whistleblower retaliation.

    Attorney Nohemi Gutierrez Ferguson, on behalf of the county, argued that the case should be dismissed. She said that if Lampkin had actually seen the misconduct he claims he did on the part of the retired deputy, he had an obligation to make an arrest. Instead, Lampkin did not make the accusation against the retired deputy until the latter complained that the plaintiff was discourteous to him, Ferguson said.

    According to the complaint, Lampkin joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department in July 2007 and was assigned to the mental evaluation team at headquarters. He alleges he observed the retired deputy, who is not named in the complaint, receiving oral sex on Sept. 4, 2015.

    "Plaintiff approached the retired deputy to investigate and ultimately gave him a warning because plaintiff had to respond to an emergency call," the lawsuit says.

    The retired lawman showed Lampkin a badge and warned, "I still know people and I'm very well-connected with the department," according to the lawsuit.

    Believing that keeping quiet would violate the law, Lampkin reported the former deputy's actions to his bosses, the suit says.

    Lampkin later learned that the retired deputy had made "baseless criticism" of him to the department "in an attempt to cover up his own illegal conduct," the suit alleges.

    A sheriff's lieutenant who was a friend of the ex-deputy warned Lampkin that his buddy "knows a lot of people who are high up in the department," according to the complaint.

    In January 2016, Lampkin, a sergeant and the retired deputy met to discuss the incident, and the former lawman misrepresented what happened by saying he was "enjoying lunch with his girlfriend and worked there," the suit alleges.

    "You're very young, I would hate to see you lose your job over something stupid," the retired deputy told the plaintiff, according to the complaint.

    Lampkin claims that when he refused to corroborate the former deputy's version of events, the latter slammed one hand on the table, began to rant and said he knew a department chief. The ex-deputy also said Lampkin would lose his gun and badge, "then stormed out of the room after obtaining plaintiff's business card," the lawsuit alleges.

    After the former deputy left, the sergeant told Lampkin, "All you have to do is shut up about it," according to the lawsuit, which says he began experiencing retaliation in 2016.

    Lampkin was suspended for three days for allegedly acting rude in his encounter with the retired deputy, his court papers state. He alleges he also was removed from his coveted position as a mental health evaluator and his supervisors took no action when he complained that he was not given backup help from other deputies or provided proper equipment when he was at an unstable domestic violence call.

    Lampkin also was falsely accused of the theft of a badge, according to his court papers.

    Trial of Lampkin's case is scheduled for Nov. 4.

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