Glendale police sergeant reinstated after appealing his own demotion

A Glendale police officer will be reinstated as a sergeant after successfully appealing his demotion, which came after officials claimed he pressured and harassed fellow officers.

The city’s Civil Service Commission rescinded the demotion of Sgt. Vahak Mardikian’s in a 4-0 vote on Wednesday night after deliberating for more than an hour in closed session. Mardikian was emotional as he hugged his wife outside the City Council’s chamber following the commission’s decision.

His attorney, Peter Horton, said his client sees the decision as a personal victory.

“Mr. Mardikian, throughout his career, has taken his job and his reputation very personally and this case was an attack on that character,” Horton said. “I am sure he feels at least in part a little bit of vindication.”

Horton added that Mardikian is looking forward to returning to work.

He was placed on paid administrative leave in February 2011, following an internal affairs investigation. In January 2012, he was demoted to the rank of officer — a decision he moved to appeal.

But in a rare move, Mardikian opted to open the normally closed-door appeal hearings to the public in an effort to be transparent about the process and evidence against him, Horton said.

“The open hearing created a forum for Mardikian to rebut the baseless attacks on his credibility and character,” Horton said. “Mardikian chose to hold an open hearing to bring the department’s actions to light. Public scrutiny is often the most effective way to bring about change.”

The public and commissioners heard testimony from numerous witnesses, including fellow officers and top police managers, over 12 days of hearings about Mardikian’s case, which began last October.

“It’s been a very long process for Mr. Mardikian,” his attorney said.

During one of the hearings, Horton said that police Capt. Mike Rock used a conversation with another police officer about Mardikian as the basis for a complaint, which was followed by an internal affairs investigation.

The same officer later testified that some of Rock’s claims made in the complaint were false.

An attorney representing the police department claimed during a hearing that Mardikian was divisive and lacked leadership. He alleged Mardikian pressured fellow officers to join his discrimination suit.

Mardikian — along with police officers Robert Parseghian, Tigran Topadzhikyan, John Balian and former Officer Benny Simonzad — filed a federal lawsuit in 2010 against the city and the police department alleging they suffered discrimination, retaliation and harassment because they're Armenian.

Mardikian’s attorney said his client “maintains that he has been the subject of disparate treatment, retaliation, discrimination and harassment.”


Follow Veronica Rocha on Google+ and on Twitter: @VeronicaRochaLA.

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