LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — Airport police officer Rodney Rouzan says he knows he’s taking a big risk in talking about his employer, the Los Angeles International Airport Police Department.
“Officers are scared to step forward. I’m coming out on camera right now and putting my face out there because this has to stop,” Rouzan said.
Rouzan contacted CBS2 News after our investigation revealed allegations by fellow officers of cronyism and retaliation within the department.
“When you have the police lying on the record and corrupting things, just for their own personal gain and agenda, we have a serious problem,” said Rouzan, the 12th officer to reach out to CBS2 with similar allegations.
In 2012, he was fired. It stemmed from a dispute with his estranged business partner who alleged Rouzan had pulled a gun on his employees.
Documents show Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department investigators said no crime occurred. But Rouzan was still fired as a result of the incident over a year later.
“It was really sad for me to see that people just to advance in their career, they would support something they knew to be false,” Rouzan said.
Rouzan appealed the firing.
CBS2 has obtained a recording of that hearing before the city’s Civil Service Commission in February 2013.
Rouzan at hearing: “These guys have absolutely no honor. It is a disgrace that they are protecting the biggest terrorist target in the county, and there is no integrity.”
Judy Gust, the commission’s investigator, found the accusations against the officer to be questionable.
Gust said Rouzan’s neighbors’ story didn’t add up. They described different gun colors, and there were other inconsistencies.
But what shocked Rouzan was a statement within the airport’s human resources record that said he had confessed to displaying a gun, which turned out to be false.
The City Attorney’s Office later admitted it doesn’t know who drafted the statement and included that information.
From the hearing:
Commissioner: “Does the department dispute that there was no such admission?”
City Attorney’s Office: “No.”
Commissioner: “What’s your understanding of why this error arose?”
City Attorney’s Office: “I don’t know. I don’t know why drafted the memorandum and put that information in there.”
The commission ruled Rouzan should get back his job. He was reinstated in February 2013.
Rouzan now believes the airport Police Department targeted him because of his union activities and political beliefs.
City Attorney’s Office: “The appellant is a self-admitted constitutionalist, which, for this board, is a sovereign citizen.”
Commissioner: “Well, I don’t know that his politics are before us.”
Rouzan: “I’ve been railroaded and this is obvious. They’ve showed their true colors right here. At no point in time I’m a part of any form of group or anything. I study the law, sir.”
Rouzan knows his views on the Constitution are controversial and admits to questioning department policies. The commission’s examiner wrote he can be a challenging employee, sometimes bordering on insubordinate, but added that was not the basis for his firing.
Los Angeles World Airports, which operates LAX, issued a statement regarding Rouzan’s case that reads in full:
“Although police personnel matters are generally confidential by law, Officer Rouzan requested an open, public hearing of his May 2012 discharge appeal, thus allowing LAWA to comment on this matter. Officer Rouzan was reinstated more than three years ago, on March 26, 2013. He was provided back pay retroactive to the date of his discharge and his benefits were fully restored. He was returned to work to the location and shift that he requested, and when he later requested to change locations, that request was also granted. Despite LAWA’s best efforts to successfully return him to work, he continues to raise specious complaints about his prior discharge.
“In May 2012, Officer Rouzan was discharged for off-duty misconduct based on a citizen complaint that he brandished a weapon during a dispute with his neighbors and their employees. He was not discharged for his political beliefs as he alleges now, nor did he raise the issue during the underlying hearing. Instead, he alleged his discharge was racially motivated and a response to his union activity. Hearing Examiner Gust determined there was no evidence of race playing any part in LAWA’s decision and found the evidence did not support his allegations of anti-union bias. LAWA relies on the City’s Civil Service process to provide the department and the employee with a fair and unbiased review of disciplinary cases, and following the decision, LAWA implemented the Commission’s findings.
“Since his return to work, Officer Rouzan, who Ms. Gust found to be a challenging, difficult and at times insubordinate employee, has made multiple allegations of wrongdoing against LAWA by lodging numerous duplicative internal complaints about the alleged mishandling of his discharge. In February 2014, he threatened various Airport Police personnel with filing liens of $2,000,000 on their personal property and he continues to threaten executives, Board of Airport Commissioners and other City employees with personal liability even though his complaints were fully reviewed and closed more than two years ago.
“When Officer Rouzan complained about the fairness of his termination, LAWA hired an outside investigator from an independent law firm. The firm conducted two investigations, following two separate complaints, which revealed that his complaints were not sustained. Although LAWA acknowledged an administrative error in a memorandum prepared by LAWA’s Human Resources (HR) Services regarding whether Officer Rouzan admitted displaying a weapon during the dispute, there is no evidence to support his allegation that the error was intentional. Aside from LAWA’s acknowledgement of the administrative error, which would not have changed its assessment that he was properly discharged for his off-duty misconduct, none of his allegations of mishandling his discharge have been sustained.
“Officer Rouzan continues to portray his May 2012 discharge in a manner not supported by the facts, even after being reinstated more than three years ago and having all of his concerns fully reviewed and investigated. In short, his allegations that Airport Police Management intentionally mishandled his discharge or violated his rights are baseless.”
Officers CBS2 spoke with say they believe Rouzan’s case is an example of why they need the inspector general to come in. They say they joined the force to protect and serve, but now wonder who’s protecting them and say it’s disingenuous for city officials to say they don’t know what’s going on.