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Arbitrator questions another Burbank police firing

Nonbinding ruling says officer should not have been terminated over Porto's case.

November 01, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

A second former Burbank police officer’s firing was questioned this week by an independent arbitrator, who ruled in an advisory decision that the officer fired for alleged misconduct during the Porto’s robbery investigation, which cost 10 officers their jobs, shouldn’t have been terminated, officials confirmed. 

The officer was identified by multiple sources as Chris Canales, a former Los Angeles police officer who joined the Burbank force in 2000. 

Without commenting specifically on the decision, Canales’ attorney Bill Seki said he was pleased with how the hearing was conducted.

“It was conducted fairly,” Seki said. “We are awaiting a final resolution in this matter. Chris has been frustrated, but is waiting for justice to be served.”

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The arbitrator’s recommendation is not binding. City Manager Mark Scott will make the final call on whether to uphold Canales’ termination within 30 days of receiving the opinion. As of Friday, Scott said he had not yet seen the report.

The news comes on the heels of an arbitrator also recommending that former Burbank officer Mike Reyes should be reinstated and recover any loss of income or benefits since his termination.

Reyes was fired in 2010 after city officials accused him of failing to report an excessive force complaint reported to him by a robbery suspect in 2007, and of subsequently lying to investigators a year and a half later to cover up the alleged misconduct. 

“There is no credible evidence to suggest that any inconsistencies are attributable to anything other than failures in memory. (Reyes) had no intent to deceive,” the arbitrator wrote.

Scott is expected to make a decision this month on whether to uphold Reyes’ firing. 

Canales is the third officer fired in connection with the Porto’s investigation whose arbitration hearing has concluded. Five cases remain pending.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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