L.A. police group criticizes CMPA's former firm

A major law enforcement association has denounced the law firm that until recently represented the Costa Mesa Police Assn. (CMPA).

The Los Angeles Police Protective League (LAPPL) late Thursday issued a statement critical of Upland-based Lackie, Dammeier & McGill. The CMPA retained the firm used by multiple Southern California police unions until late last week.

The LAPPL said the firm's "hardball tactics" can erode the public's trust.

"The LAPPL has a proven track record of working with city officials to ensure that public safety comes first, and is proud to say that it has achieved success through collaboration during negotiations, not through intimation," said the group, which includes 9,900 members from the Los Angeles Police Department.

In denouncing the playbook formerly posted on the firm's website, LAPPL joined other major agencies across the state that have recently distanced themselves from the firm, including the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs, which recently announced that it dennounced the firm two years ago when it appeared the firm engaged in "ethically questionable behavior."

An earlier version of this story incorrectly said the Assn. of Orange County Deputy Sheriffs separated from the firm two years ago, but in fact it has never used the firm's services.

CMPA President Jason Chamness, in a statement explaining why his group dropped the firm, said he is working toward a less aggressive and more cooperative relationship with the city.

A partner from Lackie, Dammeier & McGill did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday morning, but the firm has previously defended its negotiating tactics as legal, ethical and necessary to protect the needs of police officers.

"When our clients are treated unfairly or unlawfully, yes, we are aggressive, within the limits of the law, to vindicate our client's position," Dieter Dammeier said in a statement Tuesday. "We will not apologize for 'aggressively' protecting those that put their lives on the line every day protecting all of us. We will continue to fight for our clients using every available legal tool at our disposal."

Earlier this week, Mayor Pro Tem Jim Righeimer was joined by other elected officials from across Southern California in front of Costa Mesa City Hall. The group criticized the firm.

On Aug. 22, private investigator Chris Lanzillo, 42, who works with the law firm, followed Righeimer home from a sports bar and, while en route, called 911 to report that he thought the councilman was driving drunk.

Lackie, Dammeier & McGill has denied any knowledge of or connection to the 911 call. Lanzillo, a former Riverside police detective, said he was on another confidential assignment that had nothing to do with Righeimer when he spotted him and felt compelled to notify the police.

The Costa Mesa Police Department and Orange County district attorney's office are investigating the incident. No charges have been filed.

High-profile cases represented by Lackie, Dammeier & McGill lawyers include that of a UC Davis police officer who was filmed pepper-spraying students protesting on the campus, according to the State Bar of California and the firm's website.

One of the former Fullerton police officers who faces charges in the beating death of a homeless man, Kelly Thomas, is also represented by a lawyer from the firm, according to public court records.


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