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FBI probe of Burbank police focusing on alleged excessive force involving 12 officers

The FBI investigation into the Burbank Police Department is focusing on allegations of excessive force by officers, court documents obtained by The Times show.

Federal investigators have told the Burbank officials to turn over reports involving 12 current and former officers, according to a federal grand jury subpoena obtained by The Times.

The subpoena specifies information related to "use of force, defensive tactics, Tasers, pepper spray, or the rules and ramifications pertaining to the use of excessive force or a violation of civil/constitutional rights."

In addition, the department has been told to produce records related to internal affairs investigations initiated in response to use-of-force complaints between 2003 to the present for the officers named in the subpoena.

Officials with the FBI confirmed Wednesday that they are investigating possible civil rights violations by Burbank Police officers. Sources familiar with the investigation said it was unrelated to a series of recent lawsuits by seven officers against the department and its management alleging racial discrimination and retaliation. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller would not comment on specifics of the probe by the agency's civil rights division or on how long the probe would last.

According to the subpoena, authorities requested records related to several officers including Omar Rodriguez, Jose Cruz Duran, Neil Thomas Gunn Sr., Christian Dereck Canales, Jon Murphy Jr., Mike George Reyes, Steve Sarkis Karagiosian, Armen Dermenjian, William Hampton "Bill" Taylor, Nick Wayne Nichols, Tommy Perez and Edgar Manuel Penaranda, according to the subpoena.

Federal officials are seeking use-of-force complaints or allegations generated in response to a Dec. 28, 2007, robbery of Porto's Bakery a well as records in connection with the Aug. 23, 2007, arrest of Rene Escarsega, the subpoena states.

At least three of the officers -- Karagiosian, Rodriguez and Taylor -- are among seven current or former officers who have filed suit against the city and police department alleging violations of civil rights.

The latest was filed last month by Taylor, who alleged that his demotion to captain from deputy chief was due to supporting officers who had filed complaints against the department.

Karagiosian and Rodriguez were part of a lawsuit filed in April against the police department and top managers by five officers who alleged a pattern of racial discrimination and retaliation, as well as unlawful demotions or firings.

Among the most explosive claims were that department officials tolerated an environment in which officers commonly used slurs about race, ethnicity and sexual preference directed at them, their colleagues, suspects and the public.

Burbank City Atty. Dennis Barlow said he was unable to comment on the FBI investigation or the lawsuits against the city and Police Department, citing pending litigation.

Mayor Gary Bric said he was confident that the investigations into the department, which also includes an independent probe by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, would be thorough and complete. He said there would be no limits on investigators.

"I'm sure people are looking at this and have questions and concerns about what's happening to our Police Department," Bric told The Times Wednesday. "But we can assure there's been no impact on public safety."

-- Andrew Blankstein

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Comments () | Archives (32)

No surprise here. There's an old Sicilian expression " A fish stinks from the head"

I live in Burbank, and have had my constitutional rights violated by the BPD. An officer violated the Constitution, and accused me of a crime to cover it up. A Lt.( the one being investigated) tried to dissuade me from complaining, and later lied about that. The FBI needs to stop this departments regular abuse of law, and restore the constitutional rights of those who live in or visit Burbank.

I have personally had my rights violated by Lt. Dermenjian. I KNOW that he is a liar, and I KNOW he covers for crooked cops. I filed a formal complaint, and went through a year long "investigation" The officer accused me of a crime in order to cover HIS crime! Lt. Dermenjian attempted to dissuade me from complaining. When I called back and asked for his information, he LIED and claimed to have never said any of what I just heard him say 5 minutes earlier. Eventually the chief's office sent me letter, upholding the accusation against ME! Hopefully someone will stop these corrupt cops from violating peoples rights and running roughshod over the constitution.

SCREW BPD...its all there fault that the officer killed himself there very corrupted, mean, cold hearted police officer....im not suprised this happened...burbank police are horrible..that station needs to be taken over from the sheriffs...bpd are a gang of there own. im 100% they aRe using exsesive force. be cause ive seen them do it!
but O it doesnt matter what i saw because im not a police officer...bpd has messed ppl lives up..

Some one nees to do something about this.
along with the rest that are corrupted and using false accusation that ruins people lives...are
detective nunez, reyes, rodriguez, CANALES, CAMPBELL...AND man more...


burbank police is in violation of civil/constitutional rights."

In 2007 of Augest. I was a victim from the Burbank police officers. All names All officers that are under investigation for there behaivor and names that
have been released to the press, are also in included in my report that I was arrested and charged with racism, ecssesive force, retaliation. I would like to be contacted by the Los Angeles Times for a complete details. Also to add. Everything thing was filed reported interviewed and photos of after force. Please email me as soon as possiable. Thank you for your time.

they are not cops they are animals and im not shocked.

@ BPD (or should i say soon-to-be ex-BPD) Jose Cruz Duran, i don't commend or look highly upon your current situation because i don't wish imprisonment on my worst enemy, something about losing your freedom destroys yourself, However what you did to me and my family was not right, i was sentence to life for one punch i didn't throw and you knew i didn't punch anyone. Luckily my appeal went through and i received me freedom back, five years later!! BUT IN THE END THE TRUTH ALWAYS COMES OUT. KARMA IS REAL, I HAVE LEARN TO RESPECT KARMA

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