LAPD Officer Sues the City Over Gang-Related Arrest Quotas

A 13-year LAPD veteran alleges retaliation for speaking up about allegedly unlawful practices

On Wednesday, LAPD Officer John Walker filed a retaliation suit against the city seeking unspecified damages after alleging that his efforts to speak out about commanders’ enforcing purportedly illegal quotas regarding gang contact and gun-related arrests and seizures led management to take career-damaging steps against him to keep him quiet.

Walker was assigned to Metro Division in 2015 after applying for and being selected for a coveted position on the SWAT team. However, problems began not long after when, as part of a Metro expansion by then-Chief Charlie Beck, Walker and other LAPD officers were pressured to increase the production of specific crime statistics, the suit states. The command staff allegedly ordered Walker and other Metro officers to report higher numbers of contacts with gang members, to make more gun-related arrests and seizures, and to take more gang members into custody.

“The clear message to (Walker) from the department and its various levels of command staff was that officers needed to make more arrests related to gangsters and guns,” the suit states.

In roll calls and briefings, it was “all about the guns,” according to the suit, which further alleges that “minimums had to be met. At Metro, if an officer went more than a day or two without producing a gang or gun arrest, commanders made it clear that the officer’s production needed to increase, with more gang arrests meaning the best chances of promotion the suit alleges. “This was part of the methodology used to send and enforce the message: `Do as we say regarding our demands of arrests … or you are done here,”‘ the suit goes on.

Walker’s career was eventually “irreparably harmed” when the department allegedly retaliated against him beginning in January 2020 by ordering him to remain at home, removing his police powers, stripping him of his gun and serving him notice of an intent to downgrade his LAPD position, the suit alleges.

Though Walker’s position was not downgraded, the suit explains he believes the reason for that is the LAPD “realized that it acted hastily and improperly.” Nonetheless, other elements of alleged retaliation from the LAPD has damaged Walker’s reputation, his ability to promote and his chances to be selected for other units and specialized assignments.

Requiring specific numbers of certain types of arrests violates the arrest quota in the state Vehicle Code and also potentially violates other due process and constitutional requirements. Further, the LAPD’s decision to allegedly retaliate against Walker and other officers was done to send a message to the entire Metro officer population to be quiet and to not speak out regarding the potentially unlawful policies and practices, the suit states.

In addition to adversely impacting Walker’s health, according to the suit, “The retaliation will cause (Walker) to have to take a different career and retirement path … and will adversely affect his income, pension and other benefits.”

A representative for the City Attorney’s Office issued a statement Thursday regarding the suit, saying “We will review the complaint and have no further comment at this time.”

City News Services contributed to this report.

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