Jury sides with city in police discrimination case

A federal jury rejected a Glendale police lieutenant’s claim Friday afternoon that he was harassed and discriminated against because he is Armenian-American.

Jurors deliberated for only a short time in U.S. District Court in Riverside before reaching their verdict, dismissing Lt. Tigran Topadzhikyan’s claims against the city and Glendale Police Department.

“The jury found what we have been saying all along,” City Attorney Michael Garcia said, adding the jury’s verdict confirms that “there just wasn’t any evidence of retaliation and discrimination.”

He said the city is “gratified,” knowing that when the time came to provide evidence, jurors reviewed it and sided with them.

“The city acted appropriately,” Garcia said.

Topadzhikyan’s attorneys, Bradley Gage and Carney Shegerian, didn’t immediately return requests for comments, and Topadzhikyan declined to comment.

Topadzhikyan is one of five Armenian-American Glendale police officers who filed a joint lawsuit in 2010 against the city and Police Department, alleging discrimination, retaliation and harassment.

Federal cases involving Officers Vahak Mardikian, Robert Parseghian, John Balian and Benny Simonzad are still pending.

Topadzhikyan also filed a discrimination lawsuit with Balian and Mardikian in 2012 in Los Angeles County Superior Court, which was delayed due to the ongoing federal case.

He testified that he suffered anxiety and depression due to the harassment.

During the trial, Topadzhikyan’s attorneys alleged he was harassed and passed over for promotions, which he said went to “white males.” 

Topadzhikyan was promoted in November from sergeant to lieutenant after coming out on top of a promotion list.

Still, Topadzhikyan’s attorneys pointed out that the promotion just came days before trial started on Nov. 19.

In trial, Attorney Dana McCune, who represented the Police Department and the city, said Topadzhikyan wasn’t snubbed for promotion because he’s Armenian-American.

Instead, he said Topadzhikyan was encouraged to continue to study for a promotion. 

Former Glendale Police Randy Adams testified in the trial that Topadzhikyan was “an up-and-coming star in the department.”

But Adams acknowledged that he had to discipline two officers for disparaging behavior against Armenian-Americans.


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


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