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Home / Neighborhood / San Gabriel Valley / Pasadena Independent / 2 more Pasadena police officers join lawsuit against city

2 more Pasadena police officers join lawsuit against city

by Staff
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Two former Pasadena police officers on Thursday joined four other officers suing the city for alleged misconduct, retaliation and assault.

Lt. Carolyn Gordon and Officer Omar Elhosseiny made the announcement accompanied by their attorney and family members of other Pasadena police officers in front of the department’s headquarters.

Attorney Brad Gage announced that a lawsuit will be filed within the next two weeks on behalf of Gordon and Elhosseiny.

Gage represents Lt. Sam De Sylva in a lawsuit filed last year, as well as Officer Taisyn Crutchfield, Officer Jarvis Shelby and Sgt. Milton White, who were plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed against the city in May.

The plaintiffs claim they suffered injuries, discrimination and retaliation related to alleged incidents of physical violence by other Pasadena police officers and commanders.

“How is anyone in our community going to feel safe, particularly if they’re a person of color, in a city where the police officers themselves become targets of violence?” Gage said, according to the Pasadena Star-News.

Following the press conference at Pasadena PD headquarters Thursday, the city issued a prepared statement that said while officials “cannot respond in a public debate regarding the claims and allegations, as they involve personnel matters which are confidential under California law … personnel complaints against any Pasadena police officers are investigated thoroughly and fairly, and all personnel throughout our ranks are held accountable for their actions when warranted. We have confidence in the legal process, and, as this involves pending litigation, we look forward to presenting our case in the appropriate forum.”

The lawsuits, which involve officers of color, have exposed the existence of two cliques, the “Good Ole Boys Club,” or GOBC, and the “Veteranos,” allegedly exerting undue control within the department.

The allegations detail disturbing incidents of violence and discrimination.

Officer Jarvis Shelby claimed he was placed in a headlock by a commander in August. Lt. Sam De Sylva reported being kicked in the leg so hard by another lieutenant that it required surgery. Lt. Carolyn Gordon recounted being shot in the groin with a paintball gun during a training session, leading to internal bleeding. 

“These are police officers that are supposed to protect the community, but they attack their own,” Gage said.

Gordon, who retired in April after 27 years, reflected on years of mistreatment in front of Pasadena Police Department headquarters.

“Sometimes in this building, I feared for my safety,” she said, recalling a 1998 incident when she was called a “crybaby” after being shot in a training exercise. 

Officer Omar Elhosseiny, who retired and was awarded the department’s Medal of Courage, faced retaliation after reporting colleagues for drinking on duty.

“I was called ‘Taliban,'” he said. Elhosseiny, who is Muslim, added that he was instructed to park his car facing Mecca.

The lawsuits have shed light on broader systemic issues within the Pasadena Police Department. Incidents of racial discrimination and retaliation are reportedly pervasive.

Officer Taisyn Crutchfield’s lawsuit states she was unfairly punished after a February 2023 incident where she attempted to de-escalate a situation between a Black woman and another officer. Her subsequent administrative leave and the lack of response to her calls for backup further fueled allegations of retaliation. 

The Pasadena Police Officers Association dismissed the claims as false, insisting they do not reflect the department’s stance.

“The inflammatory rhetoric of an opportunistic counselor will not prevail,” read a statement from the association emphasizing its commitment to due process.

Despite assurances from Pasadena Police Chief Eugene Harris that all allegations are thoroughly investigated, the recent spate of lawsuits underscores persistent issues.

“I take any complaints of assault or violence seriously, and I will not tolerate an internal culture of assault or violence,” Harris said in a video released in December. 

The repercussions of these alleged internal conflicts extend beyond the police force.

“If there is racism, retaliation and violence within the Police Department, it can certainly bleed over into the community,” Gordon said, according to the Los Angeles Times.

The Pasadena Police Department has faced significant financial payouts related to civil lawsuits from fatal shootings and in-custody deaths of Black men.

The city paid $7.5 million in 2021 to the children of Anthony McClain, who was fatally shot during a 2020 traffic stop.

Updated June 8, 2024, 10:21 a.m.

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