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Jurors award $1.5 million to LAPD detective who claimed he was victim of retaliation

Jurors award $1.5 million to LAPD detective who claimed he was victim of retaliation
Jamie McBride, a Los Angeles police detective and a director of Los Angeles Police Protective League, speaks at a news conference last year. A jury awarded McBride $1.5 million in his lawsuit alleging he was the victim of retaliation by the department. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

Jamie McBride, an outspoken leader of the union that represents Los Angeles Police Department officers, won $1.5 million Monday in a lawsuit alleging that his supervisors retaliated against him.

McBride alleged that he was unfairly punished for refusing to sign a declaration prepared by a federal prosecutor in a case involving 38th Street gang members.

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One of the gang members charged in the case was McBride's confidential informant. McBride thought the declaration was inaccurate because it did not reflect his role in encouraging the informant to get close to a Mexican Mafia leader.

Jurors awarded McBride, who said he suffers from hypothyroidism brought on by stress, $1 million for pain and suffering and another $500,000 for future pain and suffering.

"It was an uphill battle for Jamie. Thank God for the jury system," said McBride's lawyer, Gregory Smith.

A spokesman for the L.A. city attorney's office did not respond to a request for comment.

The five-day trial in Los Angeles Superior Court featured testimony from two high-ranking LAPD officials: Asst. Chief Jorge Villegas and Deputy Chief Sean Malinowski. Both were among McBride's supervisors at the time; Malinowksi is now chief of staff for Chief Charlie Beck.

After the LAPD launched an investigation into McBride's interactions with the informant, he was referred to a Board of Rights, a disciplinary panel that decides serious misconduct cases.

While waiting for his hearing, McBride was relieved of duty without pay for five months. In April 2014, the board found McBride guilty of failing to document his contacts with the informant and failing to properly train his subordinates on the use of confidential informants. He was suspended for 10 days without pay.

Villegas, who was then deputy chief of the Valley Bureau, later barred McBride from being a supervisor, working with confidential informants and taking a night watch job.

Villegas insisted he did not know McBride personally and was unaware of McBride's refusal to sign the prosecutor's declaration. McBride's prior disciplinary history also played a part in Villegas' decision.

But McBride alleged that Villegas retaliated against him for his refusal to sign the declaration, citing a detective who claimed to have overheard Villegas saying: "He didn't sign it … he embarrassed us, and could have jeopardized the entire case."

McBride was elected to the Los Angeles Police Protective League's board of directors, which is a full-time job, two years ago. He lost a close race for union president last December.

For more news on the Los Angeles Police Department, follow me on Twitter: @cindychangLA

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