City to consider claim of police misconduct

Laguna Beach City Council members will decide whether to accept a legal consultant's suggestion the city deny a man's claim that a police officer mistreated him while he slept in his car on Nov. 30.

The matter will go before the council at its regular meeting at 6 p.m. Tuesday inside Council Chambers at 505 Forest Ave.

The consultant suggested the city "send a standard rejection letter to the claimant [Leonard Porto]," according to a June 10 letter to the city clerk, available on the city's website.

The letter did not provide a reason for the suggestion to deny Porto's claim, and City Attorney Phil Kohn said it's the city's point not to comment on pending claims or litigation.

Porto claims Officer Mike Jeffries violently awakened him at 2:30 a.m. Nov. 30 while he slept in his car in front of 300 El Paseo near Main Beach during a rainstorm, according to Porto's claim filed with the city clerk on May 29.

"Officer Jeffries banged on the roof of claimants' vehicle multiple times to awaken claimant [Porto]," according to the claim, which also said a female officer accompanied Jeffries. "Disabled claimant [Porto] suffered severe emotional and physical trauma of being awakened violently by strangers ... [the officer's] actions were intentional, malicious, uncivilized and shocking."

Police issued Porto a $43 citation for violating the city's municipal code, which prohibits a person from parking a car on any public street, beach or park, where someone can't see inside the vehicle.

A sunshade covered the front windshield while towels hung from the inside on the driver- and passenger-side windows, Porto said in an email.

Covering the windows with towels helped keep the vehicle warm and added privacy, said Porto, who said he was homeless at the time.

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