The Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has denied the allegations of a Black sheriff’s lieutenant whose lawsuit maintains he was wrongfully demoted by Sheriff Alex Villanueva in 2021 two days after being elevated to a coveted position, saying the plaintiff is trying to influence the outcome of Tuesday’s election in which the sheriff is seeking reelection.
Lt. John Lindsay‘s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges discrimination, retaliation and failure to prevent harassment, discrimination or retaliation.
“Under the direction of Sheriff Alexandro Villanueva, the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department has engaged in systemic racial discrimination against African-Americans by decreasing the number of African-American employees to accommodate an increase in Hispanic applicants and promotional candidates in the department,” the suit states.
In a statement issued Wednesday, Nov. 2, the LASD rejected Lindsay’s claims, calling the complaint “yet another frivolous lawsuit” and likening his allegations to those of other department members who have “failed in their leadership duties,” then filed individual suits themselves.
“The allegations by Mr. Lindsey are completely without merit and we look forward to exposing this in court,” the statement read. “Clearly, this series of lawsuits is a desperate attempt to influence the outcome of the election.”
But according to Lindsay’s lawsuit, Villanueva has “made it clear in public statements that he harbors a racial animus towards African-Americans, engaging in racist generalizations about African-Americans, having cast blame upon African-Americans within the department for allegedly interfering with his promotability in a lawsuit he filed against his own department.”
During the last three years, Villanueva, saying he wanted to “mirror the communities of Los Angeles County,” has directed recruitment, hiring and promotional efforts that have “materially lowered the number of African-American employees while raising the number of Hispanic employees on the department,” the suit alleges. According to his suit, Lindsay has worked in custody and patrol duty as well as in community-oriented policing. As a lieutenant, he has been the Civic Center liaison supervising tactical planning and logistics for large- scale events and protests in the downtown Los Angeles area, the suit states.
Lindsay was picked in January 2021 by Undersheriff Timothy Murakami for the position of executive aide, a highly desirable and promotable position, the suit states. Two days later, Villanueva, while in Murakami’s office, allegedly looked at Lindsay and said, “So you’re the new guy,” the suit states. Immediately after Villanueva left the office, Murakami told Lindsay that he was being demoted to his previous position, according to the suit. Murakami was unable to provide an explanation, saying it was out of his hands, but that he admired the plaintiff’s work performance, according to the suit.
The suit further states that Lindsay’s replacement was not Black and lacked the education and experience Lindsay has. Subsequent to Lindsay’s demotion, Villanueva has denied the plaintiff multiple promotions in the Court Services Division for which he was well-suited, instead promoting Latinos who had “zero knowledge” of division operating procedures, the suit states.