LAPD chief admits he didn’t address captain’s fake nude photo

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A fake nude photo allegedly of a female LAPD captain shared by officers may have ‘smeared’ it, but the police chief says he didn’t send a department-wide message about it because he feared “it had the potential to go viral”.

Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore testified Thursday in Capt. Lillian Carranza’s lawsuit against the department that the image was intended to “ridicule, embarrass or harass or smear” the veteran leader.

But after Carranza filed a formal complaint in late 2018 and asked Moore to inform the 13,000 members of the force that the photo was fake, he refused, saying it could create “viral interest, human or otherwise”. and a “potential”. for more embarrassment,” others potentially searching for the image.

Carranza, a 33-year veteran of the Los Angeles Police Department, who at the time commanded the Commercial Crimes Division and now heads the Gang and Narcotics Division, alleges that LAPD command staff knew the image circulating, as well as derogatory comments about it. , but did not alert her. Instead, she heard about the photo from a colleague.

The trial that began this week highlights one of many allegations made by women in the department that describe a rude and sexist culture within the ranks that is too often tolerated.

In her lawsuit, Carranza seeks damages for emotional distress, citing sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. She is due to testify on Tuesday.

Carranza was so deeply humiliated by the topless photo that looked like her that she suffered from major depressive disorder, and after a colleague told her about it, her blood pressure skyrocketed so high that she had to be hospitalized on Christmas Eve. , his attorney, Greg Smith, told jurors.

An LAPD ruling on his complaint found that the image had been distributed in at least “four different locations at different times” and “was presented to various officers as an image of Carranza”. An investigation revealed that it was not possible to identify the initiator of the photo sharing.

But Mark Waterman, the city’s lead attorney, said no one shared the photo directly with Carranza and only a small number of officers saw the image believed to be her. She also did not experience harassment in her work environment, Waterman said.

Moore admitted during his testimony Thursday that he sent a department-wide message in connection with a “racist” Valentine’s Day 2021-style meme mocking the 2020 murder of George Floyd that was shared by an officer of the LAPD. But he said it was different from Carranza’s case.

“They’re not on the same scale,” Moore said, adding that he feared Valentine’s post would reinforce public distrust of the police. “Everyone needed an answer.”

But Carranza’s attorney said even after suing the department for the incident, the chief did not publicly tell his officers it was untrue or order them not to share the image. Moore said that in Carranza’s case, the department’s efforts were focused on finding the “person responsible for the shipment.”

Former Deputy Chief Debra McCarthy, who oversaw the LAPD investigation as head of the Office of Professional Standards, said she supports Moore’s decision not to send a department-wide notification about the fake photo.

McCarthy, who retired in 2020, said Carranza contacted them after the investigation began and asked to get the message out to the entire department that it wasn’t her. McCarthy said she discussed the request with Moore, but she, too, was concerned that any statement from the chief “could give him some legs” and taint the investigation.

She said it was unclear how many officers saw the image. Many denied it, and even those who admitted seeing the photo couldn’t remember how they got it.

Former sergeant. Stacey Gray, who led the LAPD investigation, testified that when she asked Carranza how she finally saw the image, her attorney, who was on the phone with them, said: “She got it. of me.”

Gray said there was an incident in 2018 at the then-Staples Center in which an officer showed the photo to colleagues. She said she guessed 10 to 13 officers saw the image, but she couldn’t say for sure the exact number.

Carranza said in court papers that she believed parts of her face had been photoshopped into the nude image.

“I noticed that the facial features of the woman in the photo looked strikingly like me, although the photo was not actually mine,” she said in a statement. “I actually concluded that my own eye looks like it was photoshopped into the picture.”

Carranza said in the statement that she felt “hurt, abandoned and belittled by my superiors … who took no action to prevent known harm from occurring and who stood aside and watched, encouraged, or simply looked away as I was ridiculed, humiliated, and degraded by other LAPD employees, despite my persistent pleas for help.

It’s the latest in a string of derogatory incidents over his career, Carranza said. In November 2013, a detective then teaching a training course was filmed saying she was “a very cute little Hispanic woman” and had “been traded multiple times”. The department, she said, knew about the recording but never told her about it until the officer who made it notified her.

The photo incident with Carranza came months after the city council approved a $1.8 million payout to a female officer who accused an internal affairs lieutenant of sexual harassment and ordered her surveillance when she rejected his advances.

In 2020, the city donated $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit from a police detective who said she was assaulted, abused and blackmailed by a fellow officer and that department officials ignored her complaints. This officer did not contest a misdemeanor count of injuring a spouse or girlfriend and was sentenced to three years probation.

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Los Angeles Times

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