A top officer in the LAPD Foothill Division who was demoted after officers under his command slammed a handcuffed woman into the pavement has filed a harassment claim against Police Chief Charlie Beck.
Capt. Joseph Hiltner, a 34-year veteran with the department, was "demoted two substantial levels and transferred against my will without cause," according to the claim filed Tuesday with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing.
Hiltner (pictured at right) has also been "assigned to home," meaning he must stay at home during work hours, according to his attorney, Steven Brock.
The complaint, which also names Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger and Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas, is the first step in the process of filing a lawsuit against the department.
The incident, captured on surveillance video from a fast food restaurant on Foothill Boulevard at Saluda in the Tujunga area, and reported first on NBC4 occurred late on the morning of Aug. 21 when officers stopped Michelle Jordan, 34, for allegedly talking on her cell phone while driving.
The officers handcuffed Jordan and engaged in some discussion, perhaps argumentative by Jordan's own account. A short time later, while Jordan remained handcuffed, one of the officers threw her to the pavement, head first. Another encounter occurred between Jordan and the officers and she was taken to the ground a second time, according to a statement released by the LAPD.
The LAPD launched an investigation into the arrest. Both officers involved in the incident were pulled off the street, one assigned to desk duty and the other sent home. Hiltner's demotion soon followed, with Beck describing Hiltner's response as "severely deficient."
Brock said his client had seen the video and followed department protocol. "Captain Hiltner's impression --with the information that he had -- did not warrant removing the officers immediately from the field," Brock said.
Instead, Brock said, Hiltner started a "personnel complaint," which would not require him to report details higher up the chain of command.
Brock says his client's demotion by LAPD brass was a highly unusual and possibly unprecedented response to an allegation of excessive force.
He says the demotion was the leadership's way of retaliating against Hiltner for unrelated actions. Earlier this year Hiltner defended another captain in a harassment and discrimination case, Brock said. The captain in question was exonerated, Brock said, but Hiltner has been targeted for removal ever since.
Full Text of Claim Filed with California Department of Fair Employment and Housing
After becoming aware of harassment, discrimination, and retaliation against another employee in the workplace, and after my attempts to stop, correct, and report the wrongful conduct by my superiors, I was subjected to retaliation, discrimination, and harassment by my superiors [employer].
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I also complained of retaliation and discrimination after my superiors initiated and served me with false and inaccurate documentation setting forth adverse employment actions and actions disciplinary in nature.
Also as a result of my opposition to discrimination, harassment, and retaliation, my superiors singled me out for adverse employment actions which were also discriminatory, retaliatory, and disciplinary in nature.
I have been demoted two substantial levels and transferred against my will without cause. I have and will continue to lose substantial financial damages and extensive damage to my standing and reputation in my workplace.
I have been treated unfairly and singled out for adverse employment actions and the discriminatory and retaliatory treatment because of my opposition to my employers discriminatory, harassing, and retaliatory conduct against another employee.
Further, I have been singled out for such action by my employer in such a manner that is inconsistent with my employers past practices.
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