City’s Wrong Remains Wrong

The recent million-dollar-plus verdict against the city of Glendale and two of its police officers has generated quite a bit of discussion of late (“Group seeks to review man’s jailing,” March 26). This issue arose from a civil rights lawsuit brought by an innocent [Armenian] man who was wrongfully accused of murder and who languished in one of Los Angeles’ most violent and notorious jails for eight months.

As has been reported in the Glendale News-Press, after all the parties had their day in court, a federal jury found the Glendale Police Department and the individual Glendale police officers’ conduct so egregious that they awarded the beleaguered young man roughly $1.16 million in damages, in addition to $150,000 in punitive damages from the individual officers.

Despite a fair and lengthy trial, Councilmen Frank Quintero and Dave Weaver have continued to profess the police officers’ innocence. Perhaps blinded by their own interests or biases, or simply engaging in political pandering, these misguided gentlemen have decided to personally reject the court’s verdict at the expense of their wrongfully incarcerated and traumatized constituent.

Quintero and Weaver need to be reminded that the judicial process is an integral part of our democratic system of checks and balances. Here, a federal jury received the city’s evidence and heard their arguments, issued its verdict, which the judge affirmed, making only an adjustment in the amount of damages. This is the only opinion that now counts.

At this point, Quintero’s and Weaver’s self-serving opinions about the validity of the case don’t matter and only serve to exacerbate a bad situation. The rightful authority to adjudicate justice, a judge and jury, spent considerable time examining the evidence and issued their decision. For some, this may be a bitter pill to swallow, but evidently our two council members need to be reminded that this is how the judicial system works in democracies.

In addition to the suffering of the original murder victim and his family, we now have the suffering of a man wrongly accused of the crime, not to mention a murderer at large in our community. But the damage our city incurred extends further beyond each of the victims or the city’s financial loss. The fact is that this incident marks yet one more fissure in the fragile social contract between Glendale citizens and their city government.

If this situation lingers further, it will erode the trust and confidence in our police department and other city institutions. In addition, this incident can tarnish the entire police force and sully the reputation of police officers who otherwise perform their difficult duties capably, professionally and with distinction.

What is overdue is an immediate, independent, transparent and comprehensive investigation that closely examines the many facets of this case and addresses several issues and questions.

First, what exactly did the offending officers do or fail to do that the jury found so abrogated their sworn duty to the victim? Since the jury found the officers’ offenses warranted punitive damages personally against the officers, the public deserves to know what transpired and whether the problem was an individual or systemic one.

Moreover, to engender and restore trust and confidence, the city must disclose the present status of the two officers and whether steps have been taken to ensure accountability individually and within the chain of command.

Second, what went wrong in our own city management and, specifically, in the city attorney’s office in handling this case? Since Glendalians will be footing the $1 million-plus bill, not to mention the cost and manpower expended to pursue this case, we deserve to know whether city management, the city attorney’s office or even the individual attorney who handled the case acted prudently and competently. Were there any conflicts of interests with the attorney assigned to the case or the city attorney’s office such that the case should have been sent to outside counsel for handling?

Our public servants are an extension of the people of this great city. In this case, a jury of our peers heard the evidence and concluded that our public servants and institutions failed in carrying out their duties on behalf of the citizens of Glendale.

Our police chief, city manager, city attorney and City Council need to step forward and demonstrate real leadership.

Only0by taking(concrete steps can the city leadership preserve or restore their credibility with those who they have been entrusted to represent. We owe it to our citizens and to all our courageous and committed police officers to do the right thing.

The city of Glendale is being judged by both the actions that led to the jury verdict and the subsequent response.

It is our leadership’s actions during such a crisis that will reveal their true character.

An immediate public accounting for this unacceptable failure is the unavoidable duty of our city’s leadership.

They can no longer shirk their duties. The public needs answers.

The city of Glendale is being judged by both the actions that led to the jury verdict and the subsequent response.

It is our leadership’s actions during such a crisis that will reveal their true character.

An immediate public accounting for this unacceptable failure is the unavoidable duty of our city’s leadership.

They can no longer shirk their duties. The public needs answers.

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