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Federal grand jury still probing Burbank Police Department, records show

December 21, 2012 |  3:31 pm

Burbank Police Department
A federal grand jury is continuing to examine evidence as part of a years-long investigation into alleged civil rights violations by Burbank police officers, according to court documents and sources familiar with the investigation.

Officials with the U.S. attorney's office and the FBI, which has been investigating allegations of excessive force since 2009, declined to comment on any aspect of the probe.

The Times first reported in 2009 that subpoenas had been issued by a federal grand jury seeking information and records concerning a dozen officers.

But recent court filings show that a grand jury has asked for additional information, including "various deposition transcripts and exhibits" from at least two federal civil cases involving Burbank police officers Omar Rodriguez and Bill Taylor.

In response to the filings, U.S. District Judge George H. Wu gave the green light to Burbank officials to cooperate with the court order, the documents show.

Rodriguez was among five officers who sued Burbank in 2009 alleging that the city allowed a pattern of discrimination and sexual harassment and retaliated against those who complained.

Taylor also sued the department in 2009 alleging he was demoted from deputy chief to captain because he supported officers who filed discrimination complaints against the department. The officers alleged that the Burbank Police Department tolerated an environment in which officers commonly used slurs about race, ethnicity and sexual preference directed at them, their colleagues, suspects and the public.

The department remained under scrutiny as the FBI launched a probe. Chief Tim Stehr resigned amid the controversy, and a police sergeant committed suicide, saying he had been the victim of retaliation.

Since then, former LAPD Deputy Chief Scott LaChasse has taken over the department and instituted broad reforms.

Amy Albano, who became city attorney in Burbank in 2011, declined comment.

She noted that the Burbank Police Department has made progress under LaChasse and now has a new command staff focused on best practices and better training.

"The Police Department today is not the same as it was," Albano said.

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-- Andrew Blankstein and Adolfo Flores

Photo: Burbank Police Department Credit: Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles Times

 

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