Police Captain Found Guilty of 1 Charge Filed by Woman Officer
Los Angeles Police Capt. Jerry Conner was acquitted Thursday of charges that he roughed up a female officer in a shoving incident last summer but was found guilty of having threatened her with firing if she filed charges against him.
A Los Angeles Police Department Board of Rights also found that the 24-year veteran was guilty of not taking appropriate action on a citizen’s complaint of excessive force by an officer under his direction. Conner was also found innocent of making misleading statements to an internal affairs investigator and of additional counts of having threatened Officer Patricia Ibarra, the woman he was accused of shoving.
Conner, 50, commander of the 77th Street Station in South-Central Los Angeles, was given a 15-day suspension without pay for the two offenses. The recommendation will be reviewed by Chief Daryl F. Gates, who can reduce but not increase the punishment.
Conner has been on special assignment in the Office of Operations pending the board’s finding. A spokesman said Gates will decided if Conner will return to his post at the 77th Street station.
Even in acquiting Conner on charges of improper physical force, hearing officers said he allowed his “ego and emotion” to take charge at a time when he should have shown leadership. His actions, the board concluded, “did not amount to misconduct, but poor judgment.”
The central complaints against Conner of improper force and threats stemmed from an incident at the 77th Street station house after Ibarra received a bouquet of red roses.
In his testimony before the board, Conner described the incident as a “celebration that quickly turned into a nightmare.”
When Conner began what witnesses described as a time-honored police tradition of razzing the recipient of flowers at the station by reading the accompanying note, Ibarra took exception and demanded that Conner return the letter.
What followed, by all accounts, was the rapid degeneration of an office joke into an ugly confrontation between an emotionally charged junior officer, who is 5 feet tall and weighs 110 pounds, and an assertive captain who is 6-feet, 3-inches tall weighs 215.
Ibarra, 24, who has been on the force about 2 1/2 years, alleged that Conner repeatedly shoved her in front of fellow officers and threatened her with physical harm if she did not get out of his way.
She claimed that the shoving aggravated earlier duty-related injuries and required her to take additional time off work. She also charged that Conner later threatened her with dismissal if she reported the incident.
Ibarra is on a stress-related leave from the force.
Conner said he never shoved or pushed the officer and was shocked that she repeatedly grabbed at him and ordered him--a senior officer--to acquiesce to her demands.
The alleged threats, Conner testified, were simply warnings misinterpreted by Ibarra who was intent on making a case against him.
He admitted telling her that if she made false statements on an injury report, she could be fired.
The board called his actions “an abuse of discretion” and “clear-cut misconduct.”
The other guilty finding by the board related to Conner’s dismissing a department investigation into a complaint that an officer on his staff had punched a youth who lived in the area.
The board found that Conner should not have stopped the investigation despite his good intentions. “There are procedures, and it is your responsibility to see that they are followed,” the board said.
The hearing officers said “to violate the system is to erode the integrity of the department.”