As the police department pushes forward with layers of independent oversight and monitors to restore public confidence, yet another lawsuit involving a former police officer has been filed against the city.
Former Burbank Police Det. Pete Allen has filed a lawsuit in federal court claiming he was fired in retaliation for participating in an internal misconduct investigation into the police response to the Porto's Bakery robbery in December 2007.
Allen claims the city violated the California Whistleblower Protection Act after he provided information to the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and FBI after they launched use-of-force probes into the department.
"We are very confident that a jury of Pete Allen's peers will find in our favor," Allen's attorney, Brian Claypool, said in an email. "It is patently obvious that the Burbank [Police Department] retaliated against Pete for having called out members of the department for engaging in unsavory and unethical business practices. Pete Allen's good name was besmirched and impugned by virtue of his courage."
Allen, an 18-year veteran who was named officer of the year in 2009, was assigned to oversee the investigation of the robbery when he was told by Det. Angelo Dahlia that he witnessed officers beating robbery suspects, according to the lawsuit.
Dahlia has also sued the city, and along with Allen and eight other officers, was terminated in 2010.
Allen and Dahlia's administrative proceedings with the city are pending, Claypool said.
City Attorney Amy Albano said the city had not been served yet, only that they were placed on notice that a lawsuit was pending.
Claypool said his client's case did not depend on the results of the city appeals process.
"Regardless of how it plays out, Allen is going to have his day in court," Claypool said, adding that the city was stalling the administrative proceedings.
"It's an ingenuous attempt to use the administrative process to frustrate and thwart [Allen's] appropriate legal regress in civil court," Claypool said.
A federal judge in December threw out a lawsuit filed by former police Officer Elfego Rodriguez, ruling that he first needed to exhaust the city's appeal process.
Some lawsuits involving former and current police officers against the city and department have been dropped, while others continue to wind their way through the court system. At least two former officers filed lawsuits in both state and federal courts.
"Regardless of the purported changes at the Burbank Police Department, the fact of the matter is that Pete Allen was degraded, and his career was ruined," Claypool said. "If change is truly taking place, I commend that. Then they're learning from this debacle. I hope they are, and are growing from this experience. But that doesn't make Pete Allen whole. You can't apply it retroactively and say 'sorry.'"