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Judge denies former police officer's petition to reverse termination

A judge on Friday denied a former Burbank police officer's petition to reverse his termination and award him back pay and benefits, four years after he was fired for alleged misconduct during the investigation into a robbery at Porto's Bakery in 2007.

Elfego Rodriguez, who joined the Burbank police force in 2004 after previously serving as a police cadet for a neighboring agency, was fired in 2010 after police officials claimed he and another officer assaulted a Porto's robbery suspect who had been misidentified and was not involved in the crime, though records show Rodriguez has repeatedly denied those allegations.

The city claimed that Rodriguez lied about the alleged excessive force to protect his reputation during an initial investigation.

In April 2009, an officer came forward with information suggesting that some officers had been involved in excessive force during the robbery investigation, and had attempted to cover up the misconduct during the initial internal investigation, prompting a second probe into the alleged misconduct.

The second internal probe cost 10 officers, including Rodriguez, their jobs. One officer has since been rehired, while a settlement is reportedly in the works with another.

In addition to denying the excessive-use-of-force allegation and questioning the credibility of the misidentified suspect, Rodriguez argued in his petition that the one-year limitation period for investigating the complaint against him had expired before he was disciplined.

He contended that the one-year period began the night allegations were made by the misidentified suspect on Dec. 31, 2007, even though they weren't specifically directed toward Rodriguez. However, the city argued the period started when officials were alerted to the allegations against Rodriguez on June 11, 2009, when police reinterviewed the man.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Donna Fields Goldstein sided with the city, noting that it wasn't until the man was interviewed that city officials became aware of the claims against Rodriguez.

"You don't expect them to investigate things that don't come to their attention," Fields Goldstein said to Rodriguez's attorney, David Garcia, in court.

Garcia, who can appeal the ruling, declined to comment after the hearing, citing that he did not have permission to do so from his client.

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