News
>BACK

Officer Wins Three Year Battle with the City of Huntington Park

Posted on Wednesday, November 01, 2006 at 12:00PM

Alfonso Amador had been a police officer for the city of Huntington Park for 12 years when he was thrown into a battle with the department’s administration and the city, a battle which took over three years before he was vindicated.

On November 20, 2002, Officer Amador was one of the responding officers to an apartment building in which a woman was threatening to inflict harm upon herself. Based on conversations that Amador had with his supervisor, he took the opportunity to use OC spray to incapacitate her before she could carry out her threats. Ultimately, the police were able to gain control of the situation before a tragedy could occur. At the end of the day, Amador never thought that his saving the life of a citizen would almost cost him his career.

Days after the incident, Amador, who had a pending discrimination lawsuit against the department and the chief of police, found that he had been accused of disregarding a direct order from the supervisor at the scene. Amador knew that he had done nothing wrong and would be vindicated when all the evidence was reviewed. What he did not expect was that the department would do whatever it could to fire him.

During the investigation, Amador was contacted to give a compelled statement as part of the administrative investigation. Prior to the formal Internal Affairs interview, the investigator approached Amador and asked him to listen to several tape-recorded witness interviews pertaining to his alleged misconduct. While listening to the tapes, Amador chose to take notes of the witness interviews for his attorney’s use in preparing a defense against the allegations of misconduct.

During the formal Internal Affairs hearing, the internal affairs investigator ordered Amador to turn over the notes he had taken. Amador’s attorney objected and refused to turn over the notes on the grounds of privacy, attorney-client privilege and attorney-work product doctrine. Approximately eight days later, the chief notified Amador’s attorney that if the notes were not turned over, Amador would “be charged with insubordination and disciplined accordingly.” Eventually, Amador’s attorney sought an injunction to prevent the chief from taking action. The chief backed down from demanding the notes.

However, Amador was served with a letter of intent to terminate him and was relieved from duty. The department falsely stated that Amador disregarded the direct order of his supervisor at the scene and took it upon himself to deploy OC spray on the subject woman. Further, they accused Amador of lying about his actions during the Internal Affairs investigation into the matter.

During his hearing before the Civil Service Commission, the evidence exonerated Amador. The Commission completely exonerated Amador and recommended to the City Council that Amador be returned to full police status. At this point, Amador thought that his worries were over. Unfortunately, the City Council, while adopting the recommendation of the Civil Service Commission exonerating Amador from any misconduct, felt that some sort of discipline should be imposed, as a show of support for the chief. Although he committed no misconduct, the City Council imposed a 60-day suspension on Amador, not giving any reason for the suspension.

Amador’s attorney filed a Petition for Writ of Mandate with the Superior Court. Shortly after the Writ was filed, the city experienced a change in some key administrative positions. With the changes in the administration came an investigation into the administration of the police department. It was also determined that there was no reason for the City Council imposing the suspension. Almost three years after his ordeal began, Amador was reinstated with full back pay.

Amador is extremely grateful to the support he received from the Legal Defense Fund. At every step of the way during his legal nightmare, Amador was impressed with the commitment shown to him by LDF.

PORAC Legal Defense Administrator Ed Fishman Testimony: Law Enforcement Use of Body Cameras.