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Ex-sergeant, first openly gay LAPD officer, charged with assaulting husband

A former Los Angeles police sergeant who waged a decades-long legal battle with the LAPD over its treatment of gay and lesbian officers was charged Tuesday with assaulting his husband at their West Hollywood home, prosecutors said.

Mitchell Grobeson, 57, faces a felony count of assault with a firearm and criminal threats. At his arraignment Tuesday afternoon in the Airport courthouse, he pleaded not guilty, said Ricardo Santiago, a spokesman for the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office.

Grobeson, who claimed to be the first openly gay officer in the LAPD, was arrested Friday after an hours-long standoff with L.A. County sheriff’s deputies.

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Earlier that day, the couple had a domestic dispute, and Grobeson allegedly pointed his handgun at his husband, ordering him to leave, prosecutors said.

His husband called the sheriff’s office so that he could return to the home and retrieve some possessions, prosecutors said.

Sheriff’s deputies arrived and Grobeson allegedly holed himself up in the home, refusing to leave. More than three hours after deputies were called to the home in the 800 block of West Knoll Drive, crisis negotiators successfully persuaded Grobeson to surrender.

He was arrested and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bail.

If convicted of all charges, Grobeson faces up to 14 years in state prison.

In 1988, at age 29, Grobeson filed a lawsuit against the LAPD, alleging that fellow officers and their superiors forced him to resign following a mix of threats and intimidation over his sexual orientation.

Before resigning from the force in 1988, Grobeson had served for nearly seven years. He alleged in his lawsuit that superiors called him a pejorative term and that he once received a package labeled “AIDS survival kit.”

In February 1993, Grobeson, along with two other officers, won $770,000 in damages and a promise by the department to improve its recruitment, hiring and training of gay officers.

Grobeson filed a second lawsuit against the department in 1996, alleging that the LAPD had failed to carry out the reforms promised in the earlier settlement. He also alleged that officers and supervisors were harassing him on the job after he returned to the department.

He later retired on a stress disability claim and challenged the LAPD's suspensions of him in court.

In 2013, Grobeson and the LAPD reached a settlement in the second lawsuit, ending a quarter-century-long legal battle. 

An attorney representing Grobeson could not be reached for comment.

For breaking news in California, follow @MattHjourno and @LACrimes.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

6:06 p.m.: This article was updated with details on Grobeson's arraignment.

This article was originally published at 5:04 p.m.

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