Judge sides with Glendale in police-related lawsuit

A U.S. District Court judge this week dismissed a lawsuit brought by an attorney who claimed a former Glendale police officer began having an affair with his wife after he was arrested for a criminal case that was ultimately dropped.

In granting summary judgment for the city and former officer Michael Lizarraga, Judge Dolly M. Gee determined that the attorney, Robert Yousefian, had failed to raise any “triable” issues in his claims.

Yousefian alleged Lizarraga, Det. Petros Kmbikyan and the city had violated his civil rights, but Gee stated that he failed to identify the constitutional rights of which he was deprived.

“The city is extremely pleased with the court’s order granting the motions for summary judgment,” City Atty. Michael Garcia said in an email. “Once judgment is entered, the case will be over against the city and the officers, unless successfully appealed.”

Yousefian had claimed his wife admitted that she began an affair with Lizarraga after he arrested Yousefian in August 2007 for allegedly assaulting his father-in-law, according to the lawsuit.

In the latest decision, the judge ruled that Lizarraga had probable cause to arrest Yousefian, who has maintained that he was defending himself from his father-in-law.

At the time of his arrest, Yousefian and his wife were having marital problems, the lawsuit claims.

The day after Yousefian’s arrest, Lizarraga and his wife allegedly exchanged 87 text messages, which were never documented in police reports or supplied to the Los Angeles County District Attorney, according to the lawsuit.

Yousefian was eventually acquitted of all charges that were filed after a 35-month investigation, prompting him to file the lawsuit against his wife, Lizarraga, the city and Kmbikyan, who investigated the case.

“We are obviously very disappointed,” Yousefian’s attorney, Shelley Kaufman, said of the ruling.

She added that they are still considering whether to file a motion of reconsideration or an appeal.

The judge’s order, she said, contained some factual errors, but declined to elaborate.

In August 2011, Lizarraga was fired for conduct “unbecoming of an officer” and “inconsistent with the proper administration of the department in which the employee is employed,” according to court documents.

The city’s final disciplinary action notice to Lizarraga stated that he “made a series of poor decisions that colored the objectivity of the arrest, the investigation and the subsequent court proceedings.”

In the notice, officials stated Lizarraga’s actions “brought discredit and embarrassment” to the Police Department.

Despite the latest decision, Garcia said Lizarraga’s termination will stand.

“The court’s ruling does not impact any disciplinary actions previously taken,” Garcia said.


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