LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A former Long Beach police officer says the department fired him because he is gay.
Brent Record’s lawyer told a jury Thursday that despite an exemplary work history, his client was fired after he came out and the department changed its opinion about him.
In his opening statement, Record’s lawyer David Tibor said his client had a good service record and good relations with colleagues for the first seven of his eight years on the force. He said things changed for Record after he began being unfairly scrutinized by Sgts. Gerardo Prieto and Scott Jenson.
The two sergeants are co-defendants, along with the city, in the case alleging discrimination, harassment and retaliation.
“They were looking to get him terminated, that was clear,” Tibor told the Los Angeles Superior Court jury.
Deputy Long Beach City Attorney Haleh Jenkins argued that Tibor was clearly not fired for being gay. She said several rank-and-file and supervisory members of the LBPD are gay and that the city has a large population of gay residents, including the mayor, Robert Garcia.
Jenkins said Record lost his job because he was afraid to handle the most serious of calls and did his best to avoid them. She said his actions “put the citizens of Long Beach in danger” and that he resisted attempts by the department management to correct his behavior.
After receiving complaints about Record from other officers, Prieto and Jenson monitored Record’s behavior for a week and provided information to the department’s internal affairs division, Jenkins said.
Then-Chief Jim McDonnell, now the Los Angeles County sheriff, made the decision to fire Record in November 2011 after finding true 14 of 15 serious allegations of misconduct filed against him, Jenkins said.
“The chief was very disappointed in the nature of his egregious actions,” Jenkins said.
But according to Tibor, Record was subjected to derogatory remarks about being gay from fellow officers and also found fliers mocking him for his sexual preference, some of them left in the men’s restroom.
Record complained to Lt. Elizabeth Griffin about being overly scrutinized by the two sergeants, but she gave the benefit of the doubt to Prieto and Jenson, Tibor said.
Tibor said Prieto and Jenson knew Record was gay and that he was once given an assignment on the basis of his sexuality after being told by one of the sergeants that it was “right up your alley.”
Record, now 38, grew up in Long Beach where his father was a member of the force for 32 years, Tibor said.
Jenkins said that while Record was good at handling minor crimes, he was “less effective when it came to responding to more dangerous calls” involving “dead bodies” and “abused children.” She said Prieto and Jenson outlined their expectations of him in the hope that he would improve before they began monitoring his conduct closely for six days.
“What they found out was shocking,” Jenkins said, telling jurors that Record’s alleged misconduct occurred “not once, but repeatedly.”
Jenkins said that Griffin, whose responses to Record’s complaints were criticized by Tibor, is herself gay. Jenkins said the fired officer never raised the issue of his sexuality until he filed the current lawsuit in July 2012.
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