Testimony wraps up in Burbank police detective's discrimination trial

HealthCrime, Law and JusticeJustice SystemJose Cruz

As testimony wrapped up Monday in the trial for an Armenian American Burbank police detective who alleged he was harassed and faced discrimination, a psychiatrist hired by the city described him as narcissistic and deeply insecure.

Det. Steve Karagiosian, who was evaluated by psychiatrist Lester Michael Zackler for the city, was described in Los Angeles County Superior Court on Monday as “detail oriented” and a “perfectionist” who also had a “defensive, paranoid stance.”

All of those attributes combined to creating a need to “puffing oneself up,” Zackler testified.

He added that Karagiosian did not have any significant medical problems or emotional disorders.

On Monday, Superior Court Judge Joanne O'Donnell struck testimony from a psychologist for Karagiosian’s legal team because she said defense attorneys for the city had not received his report beforehand.

The psychologist had been allowed to take the stand because Karagiosian's attorney, Solomon Gresen, said the testimony would be similar to the city’s own expert. But that didn’t turn out to be the case, with the psychologist essentially refuting the report his company compiled on Karagiosian, the judge said.

Meanwhile, a former sergeant testified that he was “frustrated” by the lack of response to concerns he raised about anti-Armenian comments made by fellow officers in the department.

Former Sgt. Jose Cruz Duran testified that he worked alongside Karagiosian and that in late summer of 2008, he reported an incident involving three detectives who were attempting to mimic an Armenian accent as Karagiosian walked by.

Duran also said he was with former Police Chief Tim Stehr when Armenian slurs were used, and that when he went directly to Stehr with his concerns, “the chief said he was sick and tired of complaints and he was not going to investigate and that people just have to work together.”

Lawrence Michaels, an attorney for the city, noted that Duran has a pending lawsuit against Burbank and that he was investigated for misconduct during the Porto's Bakery robbery in 2007.

Duran said he was cleared of any wrong doing.

Michaels also noted that the incidents Karagiosian complained to Duran about — including insensitive comments on a white board and that another officer drew his weapon and pointed it at Karagiosian — had been investigated.

But Duran said his concern was that the chief was making a decision without looking into the matter first.

The jury was expected to enter into deliberations today.

-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News

Twitter: @mariahsin

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