A jury has rejected a retaliation lawsuit brought by a Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputy who sued the county, alleging he was subjected to backlash for reporting that he saw a retired deputy involved in a sex act in a car parked on county property.
A Los Angeles Superior Court jury reached its verdict Friday, Feb. 10, finding that while Deputy D’Andre Lampkin was subjected to an adverse employment action, the county would have taken the same measures against him anyway for independent, legitimate reasons.
Lampkin joined the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department in July 2007, was assigned to the mental evaluation team and observed the retired deputy receiving oral sex on Sept. 4, 2015, the lawsuit stated.
“Plaintiff approached the retired deputy to investigate and ultimately gave him a warning because plaintiff had to respond to an emergency call,” the suit stated.
The retired lawman showed Lampkin a badge and warned, “I still know people and I’m very well-connected with the department,” according to the complaint filed in August 2017. Believing that keeping quiet would violate the law, Lampkin reported the former deputy’s actions to his bosses, the suit stated. Lampkin later learned that the retired deputy had made “baseless criticism” of him to the department “in an attempt to cover up his own illegal conduct,” the suit alleged.
A sheriff’s lieutenant who was a friend of the retired deputy warned Lampkin that his buddy “knows a lot of people who are high up in the department,” according to the complaint. In January 2016, Lampkin, a sergeant, and the retired deputy met to discuss the incident, and the retired deputy misrepresented what happened by saying he was “enjoying lunch with his girlfriend and worked there,” the suit alleged.
“You’re very young, I would hate to see you lose your job over something stupid,” the retired deputy told the plaintiff, according to the complaint.
Lampkin claimed that when he refused to corroborate the retired deputy’s version of events, the retired deputy slammed one hand on the table, began to rant, and said he knew a department chief. The retired deputy also said Lampkin would lose his gun and badge, “then stormed out of the room after obtaining plaintiff’s business card,” the lawsuit alleged.
After the retired deputy left, the sergeant told Lampkin, “All you have to do is shut up about it,” according to the lawsuit, which says Lampkin began experiencing retaliation in 2016. Lampkin was suspended for three days for allegedly acting rude in his encounter with the retired deputy, his court papers stated. Lampkin alleged he also was removed from his coveted position as a mental health evaluator and his supervisors took no action when he complained that he was not given backup help from other deputies or provided proper equipment when he was at a domestic violence call. Lampkin also was falsely accused of the theft of a badge, according to his court papers.
Attorney Nohemi Gutierrez Ferguson, on behalf of the county, argued that if Lampkin had actually seen misconduct on the part of the retired deputy, he had an obligation to make an arrest. Instead, Lampkin did not make the accusation until the retired deputy complained that Lampkin was discourteous to him, Ferguson said.
According to a second lawsuit that Lampkin filed in November 2021 and is still awaiting trial, Lampkin was deposed by a county attorney regarding two incidents unrelated to any matter at issue in the first litigation.
“Significantly, prior to this questioning, (Lampkin) had learned from individuals with authority over each incident that he was not the subject of any credible controversy or ongoing dispute related to these incidents,” the second lawsuit states. Nevertheless, in May 2020, Lampkin was assigned home based on the one of the incidents cited by the county in which he was falsely named as a suspect in a criminal investigation by another law enforcement agency, the second suit states.
In March 2021, the department suspended Lampkin for 15 days without pay related to the second incident cited by the county for “alleged failure to secure county equipment,” according to the second suit. The county’s allegedly retaliatory actions have tarnished Lampkin’s record, compromised his credibility, hurt his ability to earn income and overtime and to advance and promote, the second suit states.