A director of the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department's Multicultural Advisory Council has been stripped of his reserve deputy status after Glendale police complained that he showed up at the scene of a suicide last week, flashing his badge and demanding access to a restricted area.
The Glendale incident marks the latest in a string of cases in which reserve deputies or volunteers working for sheriff's departments around Southern California have been accused of overstepping their authority.
The incident prompted a top sheriff's official to send out an e-mail stating that reserve deputies are not permitted to enter crime scenes or use their badges to gain access to them.
The L.A. County department has 800 reserve deputies, including some businessmen and community leaders whom Sheriff Lee Baca uses for fundraising and other functions
One of the reserve deputies involved in the Glendale case is Aram Sardarian, a car dealer who serves on the advisory council, a group of business leaders and community activists formed to counsel Baca about issues involving ethnic communities. Sources close to the investigation said Sardarian threatened to call Baca when Glendale police would not let him enter the crime scene.
Undersheriff Larry Waldie declined to discuss specifics but described Sardarian as "a friend" of the suicide victim.
Sardarian was joined at the scene by a second reserve deputy, whose name has not been released. Their badges and sheriff's-issue guns have been taken away while authorities investigate.
"If the behavior is at a level that is inappropriate, the deputy should be fired from the reserve program," Baca said in an interview. "Emotions run deep when it comes to suicides."
Reached by cellphone Tuesday, Sardarian said, "I am not interested in talking to anybody yet."
Glendale Police spokesman John Balian said the department lodged its complaint after what he described as Sardarian's "unprofessional" and "aggressive" behavior Jan. 14 at a home in South Glendale near Adams and Green streets.
Law enforcement sources familiar with the investigation, however, said Sardarian pulled up on the scene in a Ford Crown Victoria, a car favored by law enforcement, about 45 minutes after the husband of the suicide victim had found her bleeding from a gunshot wound at their home and called authorities. (She was pronounced dead at the scene. Coroner's spokesman Craig Harvey later said that she died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the chest.)
Sardarian attempted to gain access to a scene clearly marked with yellow tape, the sources said.
Times staff writer Stuart Pfeifer contributed to this report.