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White Deputy Alleges Harassment, Discrimination by Purported LASD Gang Members

Published on Wednesday, July 28, 2021 | 3:45 pm
 
Los Angeles Sheriff’s Department. Credit LASD Facebook Page

A white sheriff’s deputy who says he gave up hopes of a baseball career to join law enforcement is suing Los Angeles County, alleging he was harassed by members of two purported deputy gangs and that he was targeted because of his race.

Deputy Robert Francis Coyle’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges racial discrimination, harassment, retaliation, negligence, and intentional infliction of emotional distress. He’s seeking unspecified damages in the suit brought Friday.

An LASD representative said a request for comment on the suit, which also names Deputies Braulio Robledo and Bradley Liberator as defendants, was being reviewed.

The Sheriff’s Department patrols Pasadena and regularly works with the Pasadena Police Department.

Coyle once aspired to play for the Dodgers, but decided instead to pursue his other dream of serving in law enforcement, according to his court papers, which say he “was excited to go to work for the LASD and took pride in keeping residents safe as a deputy.”

Coyle says he was initially assigned to work at the Lancaster Sheriff’s Station, but his father had heart and kidney transplants and the plaintiff asked to be transferred closer to his father’s home.

“Unfortunately, plaintiff was transferred to the East Los Angeles Station, an epicenter of deputy gangbanging,” the suit alleges. Coyle alleges that soon after he arrived at the East Los Angeles Station, some employees, including Robledo, began targeting him for discrimination and harassment based on his race.

Robledo, then an alleged Banditos gang prospect, and other station deputies thought that Coyle must have been an FBI agent because he was white, according to the suit.

“Plaintiff did not know what he was walking into, but the dominance of the station by Banditos gang culture was palpable,” his court papers allege.

Coyle says he at first tried to ignore the harassment and hoped that after the deputies at the station saw the strong work ethic he displayed he would be respected and be left alone. But Latino deputies were “suspicious over him being white and suspicious over him being focused on being a good cop,” according to his court papers.

Coyle alleges he was “deeply troubled” by what he believed was a culture at the East Los Angeles Station that encouraged conduct by deputies that violate laws and policies, so he complained to his supervisor.

“The defendants retaliated against plaintiff for speaking up and called him a rat,” the suit says.

Soon thereafter, Robledo hinted to Coyle that the Banditos would start withholding backup help on his calls, the plaintiff alleges.

That threat became a reality in November 2019 when the Banditos purposely denied Coyle assistance as he pursued an armed suspect who turned to shoot at him, the suit alleges. Coyle fired multiple shots at the suspect, who escaped, according to his court papers.

The Banditos also retaliated against Coyle by overwhelming him with excessive calls, in the process causing other deputies to be unsafe, the suit alleges.

Coyle ultimately was granted a transfer from the East Los Angeles Station, but his problems with the Banditos did not end, the suit says.

“After the plaintiff left the East Los Angeles Station, the Banditos spread false rumors about him to destroy his professional reputation,” the suit alleges. “One of the lies spread by the Banditos was that Deputy Coyle had to be transferred out because he faked his own shooting.”

Not long after leaving the East Los Angeles Station, Coyle was driving his civilian car in Compton when he was stopped without justification by Deputy Bradley Liberator, an alleged member of the Regulators deputy gang, the suit states.

“Liberator did not ticket Deputy Coyle and later lied about why he stopped the plaintiff,” the complaint alleges. “Liberator’s harassment of plaintiff made it clear that plaintiff is not safe anywhere in LASD and he needs to get out.”

Coyle is looking for work outside of the county and the LASD because he can no longer tolerate the hostile work environment and stress, the suit states.

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