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Taylor trial: City balks at timing of suit

Former assistant police chief's lawsuit over his demotion winds toward its end. Former assistant chief┬┐s lawsuit winds toward its end.

March 13, 2012|By Maria Hsin, maria.hsin@latimes.com

Defending the city against claims that former Burbank Deputy Chief of Police William Taylor was terminated after facing on-the-job retaliation from the department, attorneys this week called into question the reason for his lawsuit.

Taylor alleges he was demoted, and then fired, for pushing for proper discipline in a sexual harassment incident and because he blocked the firing of minority police officers.

But defense attorneys said in Los Angeles County Superior court that it wasn't until Taylor received notice to appear for an interview by an outside investigator concerning the robbery at a local bakery that he filed his lawsuit against the city.

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The former deputy chief, who was terminated in 2010 along with nine other police officers, testified that he recommended the Porto's Bakery robbery be investigated by an outside agency from the onset, and that he wanted the same inquiry into alleged burglaries at the department.

On Sept. 17, 2009, Taylor was sent a memo informing him he was to be interviewed by James Gardiner, according to court documents. Gardiner, a licensed private investigator and former police chief, was retained in April 2009 to review the internal police investigation of the robbery at Porto's Bakery.

Taylor's lawsuit was filed a few days later, on Sept. 22. His interview with Gardiner took place on Sept. 30.

Gregory Smith, Taylor's attorney, has argued that Taylor was called in to be interviewed by an outside investigator after he filed a lawsuit.

Gardiner began his interviews with officers in June because Los Angeles County sheriff's detectives were conducting their own investigation into allegations of excessive use of force, according to information presented in court.

Taylor filed a claim to the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in June 2009, after his alleged demotion.

Taylor was accused of interfering in the internal robbery investigation, which ended in July 2008, but — speaking to Taylor's claims of retaliation — Smith questioned why the officers who made those allegations did not come forward at the time.

Closing arguments in the case are expected to be wrapped up later this week.

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