Nearly 700 LAPD undercover officers sue city for releasing their photos

Los Angeles Police Department headquarters
Lawyers representing 691 police officers have filed a suit alleging the city of L.A. and the Los Angeles Police Department negligently released personal information that was later posted on various websites.
(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
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Nearly 700 undercover Los Angeles Police Department officers sued the city on Tuesday, alleging their safety was affected by the release of department photographs and personal information earlier this year through the California Public Records Act.

Lawyers representing the 691 officers sued in Los Angeles County Superior Court, saying the city and the department negligently released personal information that was subsequently posted on various websites.

Undercover LAPD officers’ names, photos and other personal information were released to the public and put the lives of those officers and their investigations at risk, according to the complaint. The lawsuit demands accountability and safeguards, according to a joint statement from the various plaintiffs’ attorneys.


For the record:

2:17 p.m. Sept. 13, 2023A previous version of this article misspelled the surname of Matthew McNicholas, the attorney for the LAPD officers, as Nicholas.

“To this day, criminal elements continue to use this information to track, follow and harass these police officers,” attorney Matthew McNicholas said in a statement. “Their lives, careers and ongoing investigations to protect the public are at risk, and we demand the city of L.A. take action.”

A representative for the city attorney’s office did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The Los Angeles Police Protective League encouraged LAPD police Chief Michel Moore to respond more decisively to the release of thousands of police officer photos, according to newly-released emails.

Aug. 25, 2023

The case stems from California Public Records Act requests made to LAPD, which the department initially refused to comply with.

The city of Los Angeles subsequently responded to the requests.

The information, which included officers’ names, photographs, serial numbers, ethnicities and ranks, was published on the Watch the Watchers website — a searchable database created by the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.

LAPD Chief Michel Moore previously stated he was unaware of the release, and later issued an apology and launched an internal investigation. According to a statement from the plaintiffs’ lawyers, it is believed a commanding officer allowed the release to go forward without Moore’s knowledge.

Mayor Karen Bass has also decried the release of information about undercover officers.

Last week, attorney Abel Nair filed a lawsuit against the city and department on behalf of 140 current or retired plaintiffs on the same grounds.