Los Angeles

Ruling Leaves Deputy Fired, Then Rehired, in Limbo

A judge in downtown Los Angeles has refused LA County's request for an emergency order that would force Sheriff Alex Villanueva to immediately terminate the employment of a deputy, who was fired because of a domestic violence complaint, then rehired by Villanueva shortly after taking office.

The deputy, Caren "Carl" Mandoyan, will remain in some sort of employment limbo until at least June, when the court will hear the County's arguments as to why the Sheriff lacked legal authority late last year to rescind Mandoyan's original firing.

In filing the request for the court order Monday the County said Mandoyan ceased being an employee in February, and said that Mandoyan could not be allowed to continue wearing a Sheriff's uniform and badge, and carrying a gun.

"We're very concerned about it, obviously," said attorney Skip Miller, who represents LA County in the legal action. "The judge said the Sheriff better make sure nothing happens."

Mandoyan lost his administrative appeals in 2018 after he was terminated from the Sheriff's Department in 2016 as the result of a domestic violence complaint filed by a female deputy, according to a variety of Sheriff's and court records.

Mandoyan, who volunteered as a driver and helper during Villanueva's campaign for Sheriff, was reinstated in late December 2018, after three senior Sheriff's officials held a, "Truth and Reconciliation Commission," meeting in private, and decided the County Civil Service Commission's decision to fire Mandoyan two years earlier was excessive, according to a memo prepared for Villanueva and obtained by NBC News.

The memo says Mandoyan's punishment was reduced to a 12-day suspension and that Mandoyan should be reinstated with back pay. During a hearing Wednesday morning LA Superior Court Judge Mitchell L. Beckloff focused on who, exactly, in County government has the ultimate authority to hire and fire Sheriff's Department employees, and whether the board of supervisors can overrule choices made by an elected Sheriff.

That discussion has been set for a hearing June 26 and its outcome could have broad legal implications, according to attorneys familiar with the case.

Beckloff said a number of documents with information about the case would be filed under seal because they include information drawn from police personnel files, and California has strict privacy rules for officers.

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