LAPD captain conditionally settles lawsuit over search of his home
A Los Angeles police captain who sued the city, alleging a fellow LAPD captain — who recently won $4 million in her harassment suit against the city — and others wrongfully conducted a search of his home in 2021 has reached a tentative settlement of his case.
Lawyers for Jonathan Tom and his wife, Yoomi Tom, filed court papers Monday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard L. Fruin stating that a “conditional” resolution had been reached and that a request for dismissal would be filed by Jan. 10. No terms were divulged and it was not immediately clear whether the settlement is subject to approval by the City Council.
The suit also named as defendants the Los Angeles Police Revolver and Athletic Club, where Tom bought a gun in 2019.
The other captain, Lillian Carranza, was dismissed as a defendant by Tom’s attorneys on March 29. On Sept. 30, Carranza won $4 million when a jury found that LAPD management did not do enough after she asked that the entire department be informed that a widely distributed photo of a topless woman resembling her was in fact not her image.
In his role as an LAPD command staff officer, Tom manages and supervises the law enforcement duties and responsibilities of about 250 officers and civilian support staff, his suit states. A third-generation Chinese-American, Tom is one of the most senior Asian-American sworn employees within the department, according to his suit filed Jan 4.
In November 2019, Tom bought a handgun at the Athletic Club, filled out the required government forms, paid for the weapon and took possession of it after the required 10-day waiting period, the suit stated. The club, located in Elysian Park, primarily serves law enforcement officers.
However, an Athletic Club assistant manager embezzled the money Tom paid for the handgun, the suit states. In response, Carranza, then the head of the LAPD’s Commercial Crimes Division, had interviews conducted of a number of LAPD police officers to determine if they had purchased any of the handguns that were not logged in the Athletic Club sales system and were missing and embezzled by the assistant manager, according to the suit.
Tom, who underwent several interviews, voluntarily turned over the gun he bought at the club and cooperated with investigators, Carranza, her CCD investigators and uniformed Long Beach police officers searched the Tom residence in February 2021 anyway, according to the suit.
Tom did not dispute the validity of the warrant, but alleged those involved “strategically waited until (Tom) was known to be at work, where he was informed by his deputy chief that a warrant authorizing searches of his home, work office, work vehicle, personal vehicles and cell phone would be executed,” according to the suit, which further states that Tom’s wife and 11-year-old son were the only ones home at the time.
All of the actions were “overtly public and intentionally planned in order to directly subject (the Toms) to maximum humiliation, judgment and isolation from their neighbors, civilian staff and subordinate officers, peers, superiors and the general public,” the suit alleged.
Officials seized 63 firearms, many of which were family heirlooms, antique rifles and shotguns Tom had received from his father, but none were related to the investigation, the suit stated. No evidence was uncovered linking the captain to any crime with the Athletic Club or the assistant manager, the suit stated.
Five days after the search of his home, a newspaper article about the Athletic Club scandal “strongly implied that there was an association or conspiracy between the (assistant manager) and Tom, who has never even been charged with any crime related to the theft of firearms or embezzlement” from the club, the suit stated.
Moore testified in his deposition that he did not promote Tom based on the Athletic Club investigation, according to the plaintiff’s attorneys’ court papers.
The information in the article “could have only been provided by someone who wrongfully believed they had the authority to disclose the facts of a confidential CCD investigation and had intimate knowledge of all the details of the CCD investigation, namely, Carranza, or others intimately associated with the investigation,” the suit alleged.
Tom also alleged that less-qualified, non-Asian candidates for commander were repeatedly promoted ahead of him.
In their court papers, lawyers for the city alleged the Toms’ suit was “an excessive attempt to seek retribution” related to the search of his home and that the plaintiff wrongfully blamed the department for a news story about the search.