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Black LAPD Captain Files Suit Against City

Capt. Byford Whittingham also alleges discrimination

A Black Los Angeles police captain is suing the city, alleging he was denied promotions because he did not conform with what he claims is Chief Charlie Beck’s belief that all officers sent to Board of Rights hearings should be fired.

Capt. Byford (Peter) Whittingham also alleges that only three Black captains have been promoted to elevated captain ranks with higher pay out of the 58 such promotions Beck has granted since becoming head of the department in November 2009.

Whittingham’s whistleblower suit also alleges retaliation and discrimination. He’s seeking unspecified damages.

An LAPD spokeswoman said the department does not comment on litigation.

According to the lawsuit, Whittingham at times serves on Board of Rights hearings to determine whether officers should be disciplined for alleged misconduct.

During a meeting of LAPD personnel of the rank of captain or above, a deputy chief — with Beck present — “told all command staff that when the chief sends an officer to a Board of Rights (hearing), he expects that officer to be terminated and the commanding officers sitting on the Board of Rights do not have the authority to do anything different.”

In August 2012, Whittingham says he sat on a Board of Rights hearing in which he believed that information existed to exonerate an accused officer and wanted to dismiss the case based on an opinion from the City Attorney’s Office.

“However, Chief Beck overruled plaintiff’s decision and the Board of Rights (hearing) was ordered to proceed,” the suit states. At the end of the hearing, Whittingham says he voted to suspend rather than fire the officer.

On another occasion, Whittingham testified favorably during an administrative hearing on behalf of a black officer who alleged he was subjected to racist conduct by a captain. Before the hearing, the captain called Whittingham a “traitor” and used epithets in her remarks, the suit says.

The complaint also states that Whittingham was told by a deputy chief that Beck considers the conclusions of captains sitting on Board of Rights hearings in deciding whether their positions should be upgraded.

Whittingham believed the comment was in reference to the times his opinions regarding officer misconduct allegations during Board of Rights hearings did not coincide with Beck’s, according to the complaint.

Whittingham says he also believes that his decision to stand up for the rights of Black officers as an active member of the Oscar Joe Bryant organization — named for a Black LAPD officer killed in action in 1968 – also has been held against him within the LAPD hierarchy.

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