“Courageous police officers like Angelo Dahlia are in many circumstances the public’s best or even only available source of information about police corruption and abuse,” Scott Michelman, an attorney for Public Citizen, said in a statement. “We are heartened that the court has chosen to rehear this important case to consider both the officer’s free speech rights and the critical role whistleblowers play in public oversight of government.”
Burbank City Atty. Amy Albano said she wasn’t surprised that the court decided to rehear the case.
The three-judge panel’s decision on the Dahlia case “really invited review by the whole en banc panel,” she said.
The three-judge panel that dismissed Dahlia’s case based its decision on the Huppert vs. City of Pittsburg ruling, in which an officer participated in a police corruption investigation and then notified the FBI.
With that decision, it was determined that Dahlia was not protected by the 1st Amendment because reporting police misconduct was his duty as an officer.
Dahlia claims he was harassed and intimidated after he witnessed his colleagues beat, choke and threaten a suspect with a gun in connection with a 2007 robbery at Porto's Bakery in Burbank.
After Dahlia was interviewed by internal affairs investigators, he alleges that some fellow officers threatened him.
Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department investigators also interviewed Dahlia about the incident. Four days later, he was placed on administrative leave, according to his lawsuit.
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