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Ex-cop sues Burbank for reinstatement, back pay

A former Burbank police officer who was fired five years ago after city officials alleged he failed to report an assault against a detainee during the investigation of the 2007 Porto’s Bakery robbery is suing the city for wrongful termination.

Nick Nichols is seeking reinstatement and back pay, claiming that he was nowhere near the alleged assault and his activities on that day prove it, according to his attorney and his Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit.

“He’s set on winning his job back and clearing his name,” said his attorney Corey Glave.

According to court records, the city claimed that Nichols witnessed a lieutenant assault a man who was being questioned in connection with the robbery and failed to report it, and later lied about what he saw. The alleged victim was never arrested or charged in connection with the robbery.

At the time that witnesses claim the alleged assault occurred, Nichols was either at a pharmacy near Porto’s requesting video evidence of the robbery or booking suspects into jail, according to Glave.

In September 2014, an arbitrator who reviewed all the evidence issued an advisory decision recommending that City Manager Mark Scott uphold Nichols’ termination. Glave said the decision was based on the testimony of a former detective who fingered Nichols as a witness to the assault.

Roughly a year later, Scott upheld Nichols’ termination, according to court records.

City Attorney Amy Albano said Tuesday that the city disagrees with Nichols’ characterization of what transpired and plans to vigorously defend the city.

“The arbitrator ruled against him, and the city manager upheld that decision and found that he was terminated for good cause,” Albano said.

In the complaint, Nichols also accused police and city officials of violating his rights by concealing and destroying evidence that could have cleared him of wrongdoing, and failing to give him a timely post-disciplinary hearing. He argued that it took three years before he had his hearing despite his timely request for an administrative appeal.

Nichols was one of 10 officers fired for alleged misconduct in the aftermath of the robbery investigation. One of the officers was reinstated, while another is still waiting for his post-disciplinary administrative hearing.

During the robbery, six suspects entered the bakery after hours and bound the hands of 13 employees, struck one with a handgun and kicked another before forcing an assistant manager to go upstairs to retrieve money from the safes.

In 2009, the FBI began investigating the Burbank agency after allegations of officer brutality surfaced, but last year declined to file criminal charges.

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Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

Twitter: @atchek


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