DOWNTOWN — The Burbank Police Department has severed ties with three more police officers, bringing to 10 the total number of officers fired since the city initiated a probe into allegations of misconduct stemming from the 2007 Porto's Bakery robbery.
All of the officers were fired for allegedly acting improperly or using excessive force. While some of the alleged misconduct occurred during the robbery investigation, other actions were discovered when the city widened its internal review of the incident.
Sgt. Chris Canales and Dets. Angelo Dahlia and Pete Allen, who were fired Tuesday, join Capt. Bill Taylor, Lt. Omar Rodriguez, Sgt. Edgar Penaranda, Det. Mike Reyes and Officers Elfego Rodriquez, Nick Nichols and Tom Perez to round out those who lost their jobs as a result of the probes.
They were fired when Police Chief Scott LaChasse determined that they likely committed the alleged acts.
Det. Mike Parrinello, president of the Burbank Police Officers' Assn., said the officers could appeal to an arbitrator, who would make a recommendation to City Manager Mike Flad.
"We want to make clear that we believe in the system, and we've had other officers who have had success," Parrinello said. "Going in front of an independent arbitrator is a good way for these officers to get at least a fair shot. If through that process they are able to get their jobs back, they will be welcomed back to the department."
Several of the fired officers have also been embroiled in a federal investigation into excessive use of force, as well as back-and-forth lawsuits alleging everything from retaliation and discrimination to harassment and civil rights violations.
Canales, a former Los Angeles Police Office, joined the Burbank Police Department in 2000 and later became part of the Special Enforcement Detail, an elite unit responsible for making high-risk arrests. He was called in to help investigate the Porto's case.
His attorney, Bill Seki, could not be reached for comment.
Allen, who joined the department in 1992, was the case agent for the robbery and Dahlia was the on-call detective. In his November lawsuit, Dahlia, a 20-year veteran, alleged that a rogue group of cops intimidated and harassed him in an attempt to keep him and witnesses from talking about improper use of force and misconduct during the robbery investigation.
A federal judge last month dismissed the claim against the city and five former officers, ruling that Dahlia was not protected by the 1st Amendment when he came forward with the allegations of physical abuse in a police interrogation room because he had an official duty to report the conduct.
His attorney, Russell M. Perry, said he planned to appeal the decision and file the remaining claims in state court.
He declined to comment on the termination, citing workplace privacy laws.
LaChasse told the Burbank Police Commission this week that he didn't expect any additional personnel decisions in the near future and was ready to move the department forward.
Still, union officials stressed that this was the beginning of what would likely be a long process.
The internal investigation, which is expected to remain confidential because of privacy laws, was initiated in April after then-Chief Tim Stehr said he learned that earlier probes of excessive use of force may not have been accurate because some officers had been dishonest with investigators.