Manhattan Beach

Two Manhattan Beach police officers have filed a $2.7-million lawsuit against the city, alleging that they were denied promotions because of their association with the city’s police union.

The suit, filed in federal court, charges that Sgt. William F. Sapp and Sgt. John Zea were denied special assignment as administrative sergeants because of their activities and affiliations with the Manhattan Beach Police Officers’ Assn. The officers allege that their rights to free speech and freedom of association were violated.

Sapp, a 13-year veteran of the department, has served nine years on the association’s board of directors. Zea, a 14-year veteran, has been on the board for seven years and is its president.


In addition to monetary damages, the suit seeks reimbursement of attorney fees and the appointment of a new administrative sergeant “without consideration of labor organization affiliation or activities.” The two officers allege that they were more qualified for the position than the sergeant who received the assignment.

The city, City Manager David J. Thompson and Police Chief Harry L. Kuhlmeyer were named in the suit, which was filed by the two officers and the police association.

City Atty. Carl K. Newton declined to comment on the specifics of the case, saying only that the city will file a response to the suit by the end of next week.