Sheriff’s lieutenant joins ranks of employees who say they are whistleblowers

A Los Angeles County sheriff’s lieutenant, the latest of several department members to claim to be a whistleblower over wrongdoing within the agency, filed court papers on Monday, Oct. 17, against the county and Sheriff Alex Villanueva.

Lt. Joseph Garrido alleges that civil rights violations, intentional infliction of emotional distress and defamation occurred. He is seeking more than $10 million.

A Sheriff’s Department representative issued a statement saying the agency had not seen Garrido’s court papers and is “unable to offer a comment at this time.”

Garrido worked in the Special Enforcement Bureau and oversaw the Canine Services and Special Enforcement details. His court papers state that he donated money to the campaign of one of Villanueva’s rivals, retired sheriff’s veteran Eli Vera, in the June primary. Further, they say, he reported the death of a K9, Spike, who allegedly succumbed to overheating after being left in a car by his sheriff’s handler, a sergeant.

Garrido alleges Villanueva quashed an investigation into the dog’s death to avoid “bad media.”

“Shockingly, Villanueva did not even do a tribute, internally at LASD and/or publicly, for Spike, and talk of Spike’s years of loyal service before his tragic death,” Garrido’s court papers state.

In retaliation, the department reversed a promotion Garrido had been granted, made the plaintiff the subject of a trumped-up criminal investigation, and told his neighbors in a letter that he had stolen a vehicle, destroying his career, his court papers state.

His emotional distress has kept him out of work for months, and he has been “constructively terminated” by the county, Garrido’s court papers state.

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