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Manhattan Beach fires 3 police officers involved in alleged hit-and-run cover-up

March 21, 2011 | 12:35 pm

The city of Manhattan Beach has fired three police officers who were involved in an alleged cover-up of a hit-and-run accident last year, city officials said.

The firings, which were first reported by the Daily Breeze, come after a year-long investigation into the incident, City Manager David Carmany said. The officers, Richard Hatten, Kristopher Thompson and Eric Eccles, had been on paid administrative leave since January 2010, when the accident occurred.

Carmany declined to comment on the specific findings of the investigation. He said the final decision was made last week by Police Chief Rod Uyeda.

“It was a very serious personnel matter,” Carmany said. “The firing of a police officer is only ever a last resort.”

Hatten, Thompson and Eccles were allegedly driving in Hatten’s Corvette when it crashed on Jan. 31, 2010, on Sepulveda Boulevard. The officers, who were not on duty at the time, fled the scene, and a fourth officer who responded and checked the vehicle’s registration did not file a report.

All four were immediately placed on paid leave. At the time, Uyeda said in a statement that no reports were taken and no arrests were made, and added that he had “grave concerns about decisions that were made by police officers involved.”

Uyeda was not immediately available for comment Monday.

Hatten was later charged with leaving the scene of an accident. His case is still pending.

Prosecutors declined to press charges against the other two officers who were riding with him at the time.

The fourth officer who responded to the scene, Jeff Goodrich, also was placed on administrative leave. He passed away last year.

The Daily Breeze reported the officers were paid a total of more than $500,000 during their leaves. Carmany said he would not be surprised if the officers try to appeal their firings but added that the city was “very confident that the discipline they received was appropriate.”


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Manhattan Beach police officers placed on leave amid hit-and-run investigation

-- Sam Allen