Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove — Attorney Solomon E. Gresen speaks to the media outside Burbank city hall on November 3, 2009.
Encino Attorney Solomon E. Gresen represents Burbank Police Lieutenant Omar Rodriquez and several of the other eight present or former BPD officers suing the city and the department. The Burbank Leader reports BPD Detective Angelo Dahlia alleges in his lawsuit that he saw Lieutenant Rodriquez threaten a witness. According to the Leader, Dahlia characterized Rodriquez as having “…a reputation for corrupt and illegal practices.”
Today, Gresen slammed those allegations as “categorically untrue.” Here’s Gresen’s statement.
Statement of Solomon E. Gresen, Attorney for Burbank Police
Lieutenant Omar Rodriguez in “Rodriguez, et al. v. City of Burbank”
As outlined in his 63 page complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on May 28th of this year, Lieutenant Rodriguez has alleged that throughout his 22 year career at the Burbank Police Department he has been subjected to race-based harassment and promotional discrimination and retaliated against for his efforts to increase opportunities for minorities.
“The current lawsuit brought by Angelo Dahlia is the latest incident in a long string of retaliatory conduct against Lt. Rodriguez, and seems designed specifically to discredit Lt. Rodriguez and to detract from the claims of Rodriguez and Officers Steve Karagiosian, Jamal Childs, Elfago Rodriguez, Cindy Guillen-Gomez and Christopher Dunn.” said Solomon Gresen, attorney for Lt. Rodriguez inn his lawsuit against the City of Burbank. The allegations concerning Lt. Rodriguez contained in Dahlia’s lawsuit are categorically untrue.
As alleged in his complaint, on April 15, 2009 Lt. Rodriguez was placed on administrative leave only two hours after he formally complained about retaliatory action taken against a fellow senior police officer who joined with Rodriguez in opposing the department’s systemic discrimination. The next day Rodriguez was demoted from his administrative position and reassigned to the patrol division.
The complaint also describes a system and practice where the BPD has actively engaged in discriminatory hiring and promotionalpractices designed to maximize opportunities for white male, heterosexualofficers, at the expense of women and minorities. The BPD has tolerated the use of offensive racial, ethnic and sexual preference slurs including but not limited to “nigger,” “beaner,” “fag,” “dyke,” “wet back,” “towel head” and other similarly objectionable terms. Further the BPD has consistently refused to take disciplinary or corrective action against the above described activities despite the repeated efforts by Lt. Rodriguez and others to bring significant evidence of harassment, discrimination and retaliation to the attention of the BPD’s senior leadership.
The complaint goes on to say that over the course of his career, Lt. Rodriguez has suffered and documented multiple examples of unfair and illegal discrimination against him based on his Cuban/Hispanic heritage. Notwithstanding multiple obstacles unfairly placed in his path, in 2006 Lt. Rodriguez became the first non-Caucasian officer promoted above the rank of Sergeant since the City of Burbank incorporated in 1911. Over this entire 98 year period, not a single African-American has ever been promoted by the BPD above the rank of “Police Officer”. BPD has never had a single African-American Detective, Sergeant, Lieutenant, Captain, Deputy Chief or Chief.