Exclusive: LAPD Officer Caught On Tape Allegedly Making Racist Comments
NORCO (CBSLA.com) — An off-duty LAPD officer allegedly was recorded getting into an argument with a group of African-American men and slinging racial slurs and now some officers and city officials want to know why he hasn’t been fired.
CBS2 investigative reporter David Goldstein obtained a police report that goes into detail about the night 33-year-old Shaun Hillmann, the nephew of former LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Hillmann, got into an altercation at a bar in Norco in 2012.
Part of the incident was captured on a tape recorder belonging to a Riverside Sheriff’s deputy.
On the tape, the Hillmann is heard referring to one of the five African-American men involved as a monkey.
“Dude, I’m watching this ****** monkey that we arrested 500 times — He’s a full-blown bro, he looks like Lil’ Wayne – reach for a waistband under his shirt, trying to intimidate me,” the off-duty officer says on the tape.
The security guard at the bar said Hillmann began arguing with the men and called them the “N word.”
“What was he saying to them?” the deputy on scene can be heard asking the security guard.
“’N**** this, n**** that.’ I mean, all of them were! I mean, we heard him. You know, he was claiming, ‘They were coming at me!’ and I go, ‘No, they weren’t! They were upset because you were calling them n**** this, n**** that!’” the guard replies.
During an LAPD disciplinary hearing, Hillmann allegedly denied making any racial remarks. He also allegedly lied about the incident to LAPD investigators, which included whether he pulled out his weapon, according to a security guard.
“Then, the next thing I know, he’s saying he’s got a gun. And I go, ‘Well, if you have a gun keep it wherever it’s at!’ Next thing, I turn around and he’s got the ******’ thing pointed. I turn around and it’s basically in my face. I mean, I can’t believe he pulled a gun,” the guard said.
In the disciplinary hearing, Hillmann also denied being drunk. But he told deputies that night he consumed beer and that he was “f***** up.”
Afterwards, Hillmann is heard refusing to take field sobriety tests.
According to the report, Hillman “became defensive and stated he should not have to [submit to a test] because he is a cop and that he should get special treatment.”
Moments later, Hillmann was released. The Riverside County Sheriff’s Department says there was not enough evidence to charge him with a crime.
An LAPD disciplinary board ruled Hillmann should be fired because of the incident but LAPD Chief Charlie Beck overruled the decision, cutting it to a 65-day suspension without ever listening to the tape.
“Have you heard the tape? Have you heard his words?” Goldstein asked Beck.
“People who work for me have heard the tape,” the police chief responded.
“You don’t want to hear it? I have it,” Goldstein said.
“I don’t want to hear it,” Beck replied.
L.A. City Councilman Curren Price listened to the tape and thinks Beck should hear it too.
“It brings the hatred home,” said Price, who thinks Hillmann deserves more discipline and should possibly be fired.
“He needs to be held accountable for his actions. I’m not convinced merely docking his pay was enough,” Price said.
Beck defends his actions and denies favoritism.
“Should police officers be using these words whether on-duty or off? Of course they shouldn’t. That’s why there’s a significant penalty attached. Absolutely they should not. That’s why we attached a penalty that’s relevant to the offense,” Beck said.
Despite the harsh criticism that Clippers owner Donald Sterling has received after an allegedly racist conversation of his became public recently, Beck says he stands by his decision not to fire Hillmann.
“Do you think this is something that once the public hears this tape that you should revisit it?” Goldstein said.
“I can’t revisit. There are laws about what we do and I can’t reverse things that have already been done,” Beck said.
Several veteran African-American LAPD officers disagreed with the chief’s decision and wanted to speak with CBS2 if we kept their identities hidden.
“Yes, certainly he should be fired. There’s an old saying, ‘If you lie, you fry,’” one officer told Goldstein.
“”If he lied to Internal Affairs, who’s to say he didn’t lie on an arrest report with someone who’s black,” another officer said.
“Is this someone who you could work with out on the streets?” Goldstein said to the officers.
“Excuse the expression: hell no. I wouldn’t trust him,” an officer replied.
L.A. Police Commission President Steve Soberoff also disagreed with Beck’s decision.
Nonetheless, the decision is final. In addition to Hillmann’s 65-day suspension he was also ordered to seek substance abuse counseling.