Ex-Deputy Sues Sheriff’s Department, Alleges Gay Discrimination


A veteran Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who claims he was fired because he is gay has filed a $90-million suit against the department in what his attorney said Wednesday is the first gay discrimination suit ever brought against the agency.

Former Deputy Bruce C. Boland, 44, and his attorneys have scheduled a news conference today to discuss the suit, filed last September in Los Angeles Superior Court.

The complaint contends that the department filed erroneous felony charges, involving a mistake in a crime report, against Boland that eventually led to his firing last month--all because officials had learned Boland was gay, one of his attorneys, John J. Duran, told The Times on Wednesday.


“Never before in the history of the department has a deputy been reassigned, or terminated, before a final conclusion of pending allegations,” he said. “The only reasonable inference to draw here is that Bruce Boland was singled out because of his sexual orientation.”

The suit only deals with the criminal charge filed against Boland as a result of the report and a subsequent departmental reassignment, Duran said. He added that a separate damages claim will be filed with the county Board of Supervisors regarding the firing, which prompted the attorneys and their client to go public with the suit. If the claim is rejected, as usually is the case, the suit will be amended to include the termination.

A sheriff’s spokesman said the department had no comment.

Duran said Boland started being harassed in 1988, shortly after rumors that he was gay began circulating at the West Hollywood station, where he worked.

In April, 1989, Boland arrested a man for possession of drug paraphernalia. At the preliminary hearing, the deputy discovered he had made an error in the arrest report, Duran said. When Boland told the prosecutor he had mistakenly said syringes were found in the front seat of an automobile, rather than in the back seat, the prosecutor informed him charges would have to be dismissed because of the mistake, the attorney said.

A short time later, the department brought felony criminal charges against Boland for filing a false police report, Duran said.

“Bruce Boland was doing what more police officers should do--he was being honest,” said Duran, who believes the department had never before filed a felony complaint against a deputy stemming from the inaccuracy of a report. “This action was brought against Mr. Boland because he was a gay sheriff.”


A Los Angeles Superior Court judge dismissed the case against Boland on June 1, 1990, saying that the charges were “inappropriate and an example of gross over-filing,” Duran said.

But Boland said the department’s Internal Affairs Division found him guilty, and he was terminated April 9, despite six years of service in which he had received numerous commendations.

“A criminal wouldn’t go through what they’ve put one of their own through because of an error,” Boland, a West Hollywood resident, said Wednesday. “It just doesn’t make sense. . . . I just want the facts known and I want to be reinstated.”

The Sheriff’s Department advertises for recruits in gay publications and has set up recruitment booths at public events in the gay community.

Duran said he questions the sincerity of the department.

“All this talk about recruiting gay officers is a sham,” he said. “Here we have a gay deputy on the force and he’s let go.”