File Photo: FLLewis/A Writer’s Groove — Burbank Police and Fire Headquarters at North Third Street and Orange Grove Avenue.
The number of present or former Burbank Police Officers suing the city and some department brass jumped to eight this week, and there are indications that total will go even higher. The latest lawsuit was filed by BPD Detective Angelo Dahlia on Tuesday in federal court, according to the Burbank Leader.
The story was up on the Leader website at 5:26 p.m. last night. A terse statement on the Dahlia suit appeared on the Burbank city website a short time later at 6:15 p.m. Here’s the statement.
Statement on Lawsuit Filed by Detective Angelo Dahlia
BURBANK, Calif. (November 19, 2009) – The City has been named as a defendant in a lawsuit filed by Burbank Police Detective Angelo Dahlia.
These are a new set of allegations related to cases already being investigated. As with all serious charges, it is important for the investigations to be completed.
Earlier this year, the City hired an outside attorney and investigator to conduct an independent investigation into allegations ranging from wrongful termination, discrimination and retaliation to abuse of force.
In addition, Police Chief Tim Stehr requested the LA County Sheriff’s Department conduct its own investigation.
As these important inquiries continue, the City’s top priority remains the safety of our citizens.
This statement is extremely sketchy with very few facts relevant to the Dahlia case. What are Detective Dahlia’s allegations and charges? The Burbank statement was either hastily prepared by someone who FORGOT to include important facts or perhaps the purpose of the statement is not to inform, but a flimsy attempt at some sort of damage control.
Ironically last Tuesday, November 17, the city council voted to install a new policy providing some type of screening for news releases on sensitive issues before they’re made public. This was in reaction to a controversy stirred up over the tone and language in some recent releases dealing with the investigations and lawsuits, particularly the statement issued after the suit filed by Ex-Deputy Police Chief Bill Taylor last September.
In a letter to the city council dated November 2, 2009, Former Burbank Mayor Marsha Ramos joined the outcry over the Taylor statement: “The press release stated that Mr. Taylor ‘refused to cooperate’ in the City’s attempt to investigate. Yet, I know that Mr. Taylor made several attempts to cooperate and bring forward for further discussion some very serious concerns.”
As for the Dahlia lawsuit, the Leader is reporting the BPD detective “alleges that high-ranking members of the department investigating the 2007 robbery of Porto’s Bakery assaulted and beat witnesses and suspects ‘under the color of authority.’ ”
So the city of Burbank and the BPD are facing another potentially multi-million dollar lawsuit/ settlement. And we haven’t heard from the attorneys for Sergeant Neil T. Gunn’s family. Relatives have already accused the city and the BPD of having a hand in Sgt. Gunn’s suicide last month; a lawsuit is reportedly in the works.
I can’t help but wonder, if Police Chief Tim Stehr had taken complaints and concerns last spring from the Burbank Police Officer’s Association seriously enough and taken action to solve some of the department’s problems, Burbank might not be facing all these lawsuits and maybe, just maybe, a certain police officer might still be alive.