Joseph Hiltner Suing LAPD Over Demotion Following Michelle Jordan Slam Video
NBC Los Angeles (screen grab)
Capt. Joseph Hiltner, the commander in charge of the LAPD San Fernando Valley division area where a handcuffed woman was slammed by two officers in an incident caught on video, is headed to court over his demotion, his attorney tells the Weekly.
Hiltner was swiftly transferred and demoted by LAPD Chief Charlie Beck after the video was unleashed by NBC Los Angeles Aug. 28.
At the time Beck accused Hiltner of being "severely deficient in his response" to the incident:
Proper steps were not taken, including appropriate notifications and the removal of the involved officers from the field. Because of these issues, I have removed him from his command and initiated downgrade procedures.
In a Department of Fair Employment & Housing claim made against the chief and other LAPD brass, Hiltner says he was demoted two ranks -- but not because of the Jordan incident.
Rather, the claim, forwarded to the Weekly, says that the Jordan video was an opportunity for retaliation by the department over his past support of another captain who wrongly faced "harassment, discrimination, and retaliation" by superiors.
Hiltner's lawyer, Steven Brock, told us:
The police department's wrongful actions against this other captain formed the primary legal bases for the wrongful actions against Captain Hiltner (because captain Hiltner objected to the wrongful conduct and supported the other captain). As such, both captains have been demoted and transferred because of the police department's
violations of anti-discrimination laws.
He said the fair employment claim was a prelude to a discrimination lawsuit to be filed this week in L.A. County Superior Court.
Named in the claim are Beck, Assistant Chief Earl Paysinger, Deputy Chief Kirk Albanese, and Deputy Chief Jorge Villegas.
Jordan was confronted by cops in the LAPD's Foothill Division area late on the morning of Aug. 21: She was pulled over for allegedly using her phone without a handsfree device while driving.
Her attorney admitted that she mouthed off to cops.
Video from a nearby business shows her handcuffed and being slammed into the patrol car and then onto the ground.
View more videos at: http://nbclosangeles.com.
Brock told to NBC Los Angeles that the tape doesn't tell the whole story. Namely, our reading of his account had him possibly suggesting that Jordan grabbed at least one of the officer's privates during the encounter.
Brock said the suspect was "in very close proximity to the front of both of those male officers," who had their backs to the camera, when she was slammed.
In any case, he told the station that Hiltner did the proper thing by instituting a personnel complaint against the pair, which wouldn't have required him to take them off active duty.
Beck ultimately put one officer on desk duty and sent another home while the case is investigated.
The controversy comes as the LAPD has been dealing with two other controversial police confrontations caught on tape.
Get the This Week's Top Stories Newsletter
Every week we collect the latest news, music and arts stories — along with film and food reviews and the best things to do this week — so that you'll never miss LA Weekly's biggest stories.