Marking the apparent end of a years-long investigation into allegations of excessive force and civil rights violations, federal officials have declined to file criminal charges against any current or former Burbank officers, the city's top cop said Tuesday.
The probe began in 2009 in the wake of allegations of brutality by officers during an investigation of a takeover robbery at Porto’s Bakery in 2007.
Ten officers were fired as a result of the internal probe, with city officials claiming the former officers used excessive force during the robbery investigation or lied to supervisors about what they saw or did.
The majority of them are in different stages of legal proceedings to get their jobs back.
In a letter to his staff, Police Chief Scott LaChasse acknowledged the “patience and professionalism” of the force over the last six years.
“This has not been an easy journey,” LaChasse wrote in the letter. “I want each of you to know that I am personally proud of the way you have performed under the pressure of intense scrutiny.”
Thom Mrozek, spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office, declined to comment.
Claudio Losacco, president of the Burbank Police Officers' Assn., said in an email Tuesday that he was “happy to see some closure on a matter that has overshadowed us for so long” and proud to be president of “such a fine group of people” in the union.
“The BPOA has made sure all current and former members of the association have been afforded their rights and had access to highly qualified legal representation throughout this journey,” Losacco added.
In the Porto’s robbery case, six suspects entered the bakery after hours and bound the hands of 13 employees, struck one with a handgun and kicked another before forcing an assistant manager to go upstairs to retrieve money from the safes.
In September 2009, the U.S. attorney’s office issued a grand jury subpoena for records involving a dozen officers, one of whom committed suicide on a public street the following month.
In the letter, LaChasse touted the progress made by the department, which in recent years was plagued not only by excessive-force allegations, but also allegations of racial discrimination and sexual harassment.
“The shadow that had been cast on the department has been lifted,” LaChasse wrote. “Despite the actions of former employees several years ago, the BPD of today enjoys a very positive reputation among the people who live and work in Burbank.”
-- Alene Tchekmedyian, firstname.lastname@example.org