[Updated] A man and woman have filed claims against the Pasadena Police Department and four officers alleging they trespassed and violated the couple’s privacy when they searched a Pasadena apartment after responding to a call regarding a possibly suicidal person last year.
The claims, which are the precursor to a lawsuit, stem from an incident that took place on July 22 in the 600 block of South Lake Avenue. The Pasadena city council received and filed the claims during their June 22 meeting, records show.
“The city of Pasadena and their employees were negligent, trespassed, caused an invasion of privacy, caused a trespass to chattels and conversion and violated the Bane Act,” both claims state. The Bane Act forbids the violation of another person’s Constitutional rights.
Claimants Keith Anderson and Lorena McCaigue are seeking $10 million in damages a piece in their filings.
The department holds that the officers acted appropriately.
“Officers from the Pasadena Police Department responded to the report of a person threatening suicide and took action necessary to protect life,” Lt. William Grisafe said.
“The information that was being provided to our Dispatch Center as well as the officers seemed legitimate and the officers’ response was in-line with similar calls, including looking for contact information and checking all possible residence rooms (including the underground parking garage) where a person may be found,” the lieutenant said. “As the investigation progressed, it appeared as if the call was a ‘spoof’ call for service, deliberately meant to mislead police. Whatever the motive was of the caller, it is disturbing someone would intentionally misdirect police resources for such a serious, but phony call.”
But Anderson and McCaigue describe a different version of events in the claims, filed on their behalf by the Law Offices of Kevin S. Conologue in Beverly Hills. The claims allege officers repeatedly searched drawers and rifled through documents and other personal items without a valid reason to do so.
Police received a call from a person who identified himself as Jose Santerio. According to a police report on the incident, the man stated he had just lost $26,000 in a scam and wanted to kill himself by hanging.
Four officers ultimately responded, identified in the claims as Officer Alex Torres, Officer Brian Petrella, Officer Cibulski, whose first name was not listed, and Sgt. Ara Bzdigian.
“At no time during this call were threats made to, or against, others, nor did the individual state they had any weapons,” according to the claim.
The claimants allege that after officers determined there was no emergency, they continued searching drawers and other storage areas, which was captured on home surveillance camera footage.
At one point, an officer read personal information from a document at the home to dispatch over the radio, the claims state. A short time later, dispatch informed officers that one of the residents of the apartment was a law enforcement officer. It was not clear who was involved in law enforcement, or what agency they belonged to.
The Pasadena officers continued to search some more before ultimately leaving, according to the claims.
It’s further alleged that Bzdigian and Petrella “appear to manipulate their Body Worn Cameras.”
Police ultimately determined the original call of a suicidal person had been a hoax, according to the police report, which listed the case as an incident of making a false police report.
In addition to monetary damages, the claims ask that the matter be referred to the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office Justice System Integrity Division for investigation.