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Lucio v. City of Los Angeles

December 23, 2008

JERRY LUCIO, PLAINTIFF AND APPELLANT,
v.
CITY OF LOS ANGELES ET AL., DEFENDANTS AND RESPONDENTS.



APPEAL from a judgment of the Superior Court of Los Angeles County, David Yaffe, Judge. Affirmed. (Los Angeles County Super. Ct. No. BS105334).

The opinion of the court was delivered by: Klein, P. J.

CERTIFIED FOR PUBLICATION

Plaintiff and appellant Jerry Lucio (Lucio), a former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD or Department) officer, appeals a judgment denying his petition for writ of administrative mandate. (Code Civ. Proc., § 1094.5.) In the petition, which named defendants and respondents City of Los Angeles (the City) and William Bratton, Chief of Police (Chief Bratton) (collectively, the City), Lucio sought to overturn an administrative decision terminating his employment as an LAPD officer.

One year and 13 days after discovering Lucio's misconduct, the Department filed a personnel complaint with the Police Commission. The essential issue presented is whether certain aspects of the City's disciplinary action against Lucio, namely, counts one, two and three, were barred by the one-year limitations period of Los Angeles City Charter (Charter) section 1070(c).

We conclude the City satisfied the one-year limitations provisions of Charter section 1070(c) because the matter was tolled for well in excess of 13 days, while the Department conducted a months-long internal criminal investigation into Lucio's conduct. (Charter § 1070(c)(1).)

We further conclude that although count one (converting official on-duty contact into social relationship with Jenna K.) and count three (conducting personal business while on duty), unlike count two (inappropriately threatening Jenna K.), did not allege criminal wrongdoing by Lucio, the criminal investigation related to the entire relationship between Lucio and Jenna K. and included the same conduct which was in issue in the administrative disciplinary proceedings. Therefore, the tolling provision of Charter section 1070(c)(1) applies with equal force to counts one and three.

Therefore, the judgment is affirmed.

FACTUAL AND PROCEDURAL BACKGROUND

1. Events Leading up to Lucio's Discharge

The charges underlying Lucio's discharge stem from his relationships with Jenna K., a woman he met in the course of responding to her attempted suicide, and Debra H., a girlfriend and mother of Lucio's three-year-old son.

On June 1, 2004, Lucio and his partner responded to an attempted suicide call. The subject of the call, Jenna K., was taken by paramedics to a Kaiser hospital, where she was interviewed by Lucio.

In August 2004, Lucio contacted Jenna K. while off duty. He went to her residence. He had just broken up with his girlfriend. In September 2004, Lucio and Jenna K. began an intimate relationship.

On March 10, 2005, Jenna K. called Sergeant Blake at Internal Affairs, complaining that Lucio had threatened her.*fn1 Jenna K. said she was afraid Lucio would kill her and leave the country. Sergeant Donatoni, an investigator for the criminal section of Internal Affairs, conducted a further interview of Jenna K. on April 15, 2005.

On June 14, 2005, Lucio got into an argument with Debra H. concerning their son. Lucio told Debra H. he would go to court to try to get custody because she was an unfit mother. Lucio knew that losing her son would kill her and he said, "I don't need a bullet to kill you." Lucio took the boy from his mother's house to a hotel and later called, telling Debra H. he was 15 minutes away from the Mexican border.

On June 15, 2005, Debra H. called the West Los Angeles Police Station and spoke to a sergeant. Lucio then received a call from his sergeant, directing him to return the boy.

Debra H. then was interviewed about her claim that Lucio had threatened to kill her. Debra H. said she did not really think Lucio would kill her but she was afraid for the safety of their child.

On August 23, 2005, about five and a half months after Jenna K. first called Internal Affairs, it was determined that there was no prima facie criminal case to be presented to prosecutors.

2. Administrative Proceedings

On March 22, 2006, slightly more than one year after the March 10, 2005 date of discovery, Lucio was personally served with a "complaint and relief from duty, suspension or demotion." The personnel complaint advised Lucio he was being temporarily relieved of duty on March 23, 2006, pending a hearing and decision by a Board of Rights (Board) on the charges relating to his relationship with Jenna K.

On May 30, 2006, Lucio was personally served with another personnel complaint, advising Lucio he was additionally ...


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