From: PORAC News
Two Los Angeles Unified School District police officers had their suspensions overturned and reduced, respectively, after being represented at their administrative hearing by LDF panel attorney Robert Wexler of Silver, Shaeffer and Hadden.
The department suspended Officer Rene Ramirez for using excessive force and foul language while struggle with a 16-year old student. The department contended that Ramirez pinned the student against an office wall, choked him, and used profanity.
His partner, Officer Robin Craven, was also suspended for allegedly threatening to kill the pupil during the incident.
The student, who had been disciplined by the school as a result of his misbehavior, complained that the officers choked him and threatened his life after he was escorted to the Dean’s Office.
The officers, at their administrative interrogations, explained that upon arriving in the Dean’s Office, the student became belligerent and began disrupting the office by shouting and exhibiting conduct that was potentially violent in nature. Craven interceded and escorted the troublemaker into the Police Office to calm him down.
When Ramirez entered the room, the student lunged and attempted to grab or strike him in the chest. Both officers had to restrain the student, who continued to shout and threaten the officers.
The officers, however, adamantly denied that they used excessive force while dealing with the pupil or that any threats were directed at him. Ramirez admittedly called the pupil an unkind name, but did so in an effort to gain his attention and convey the seriousness of the situation. Despite the officers’ account of the incident and denial of wrong doing, the department believed the suspect and imposed suspensions.
The officers appealed their case at an administrative hearing conducted by the City’s Personnel Commission. In preparing for the hearing, Wexler located one witness who had not been named or interviewed by Internal Affairs.
Additionally, he realized that another witness’ statement, which supported the officers, was not contained in any report of the incident. With this potent evidence in hand, it was successfully argued that the department’s case was unbelievable and that the allegations were untrue.
The hearing officer ruled that the preponderance of the evidence supported the officers’ version of the incident. The hearing officer completely exonerated Craven of the allegation that he threatened the student’s life and ordered his suspension overturned.
Ramirez received minor discipline for calling the student the unkind name, but was completely exonerated of the excessive force allegation and had his suspension reduced accordingly.