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Karagiosian trail: Burbank officer tells of years of ethnic harassment, discrimination

The Armenian American police detective who is suing the city over allegations he was harassed and discriminated against because of his ethnicity took the stand during his suit’s trial this week, sharing with the jury years of alleged ethnic slurs directed at him and Armenians in general.

Det. Steve Karagiosian testified that other officers, including detectives and sergeants, made disparaging remarks about Armenians from the moment he joined the department in 2004 to begin his training.

Karagiosian said he initially did not report the comments because of his junior rank.

“I was brand new, I wasn’t about to complain to anyone,” he said this week in Los Angeles County Superior Court.


At one point, Karagiosian said he discussed disparaging comments allegedly made by fellow Officer Aaron Kendrick. Kendrick later apologized, Karagiosian added.

When Karagiosian was able to pick his schedule, he chose shifts that Kendrick and other officers who allegedly made ethnic slurs were not working. The harassment briefly subsided, Karagiosian testified, but picked up after an interview with Irma Rodriguez Moisa, an outside attorney hired to investigate an anonymous letter alleging discrimination in the department.

Despite being told the interview was confidential, Karagiosian said about a month after his interview with her, a “majority of officers knew what was said.”

Karagiosian said at one point, he reported everything to his supervisor because he was ready to discuss “everything that he had not complained about that I thought was inappropriate in the workplace.”


But after hearing that former Police Chief Tim Stehr would be unsympathetic, and after the content from his first interview with an investigator was apparently leaked, Karagiosian testified that he decided to keep his complaints private out of fear of retaliation.

The city has contended in court that Karagiosian told an investigator he wasn’t offended by remarks about his ethnicity and that he only filed a lawsuit after fearing disciplinary action when the FBI began to investigate the department about allegations of excessive use of force.

Karagiosian said he was cleared from any wrong-doing by the FBI after the agency requested his file and that of 37 other officers.