Officer accused of racial slur deserved more punishment, Garcetti says

Eric Garcetti
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti
(Patrick T. Fallon / Bloomberg)

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said Friday that a police officer who received a 65-day suspension after using a racial slur should have received a stiffer punishment.

Garcetti made his remarks one day after CBS Channel 2 aired a recording that was said to have captured Officer Shaun Hillmann describing an African American man as a “monkey.” Asked about the audio, Garcetti said the statements were “reprehensible.”

“As mayor I think it’s really important for me to speak out and say there’s no place for that” in the Police Department, Garcetti said, “and that there should have been a stronger penalty.”

Hillmann could not be reached for comment. The Times reported two months ago that high-ranking police officials recommended that Hillmann be fired. A disciplinary board voted to kick Hillmann off the force after finding that he unnecessarily provoked a confrontation at a bar, made the “monkey” comment caught on tape and gave false statements to investigators.


Police Chief Charlie Beck overruled the board, allowing Hillmann -- whose father and uncle  worked for the department -- to return to duty after a 65-day suspension, according to several sources with knowledge of the chief’s decision. The sources spoke on the condition of anonymity because police discipline matters are confidential.

Beck has described the suspension as an “appropriate” punishment, telling The Times it matched “the nature and circumstances of the behavior.”

The Times reported on Hillmann’s use of the word “monkey” in March after obtaining a transcript of the recorded remarks. A day after that report appeared, Garcetti offered a defense of Beck’s decision in an interview with CBS Channel 2.

“You know, I’m going to let my chief be a chief,” he said at the time. “When I disagree I will speak out.”


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