Two officers sue city over treatment by Antioch PD, councilwoman for incident with her sons riding dirt bikes, video rant

Claim gender discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, defamation and more; “contemptible culture” at APD, “malicious campaign of vengeance” by Torres-Walker

City doesn’t issue response to lawsuit

Councilwoman unsurif she needs outside counsel or if city attorney will represent her, city attorney won’t say

By Allen D. Payton

On Dec. 28, 2021, Antioch Police Officers Andrea Rodriguez and Calvin Prieto filed a lawsuit against the City of Antioch, District 1 Councilwoman Tamisha Torres-Walker as an individual and unnamed Does 1-10 for gender discrimination, hostile work environment, retaliation, and defamation for how the Antioch Police Department has treated the officers and how the councilwoman treated them both following the Dec. 2020 incident in which they pursued and attempted to pull over two of her sons who were riding dirt bikes illegally on city streets. COMPLAINT-Rodriguez & Prieto v. City of Antioch & Torres-Walker

Source: Contra Costa Superior Court

The officers were able to stop her younger son, who is a minor, but her adult son, Yomani Mapp, who was riding with his younger brother, fled from police, went home and brought the councilwoman back with him to the scene. It was during that exchange and Torres-Walker’s later video rant on her Facebook page that are the basis for the officers’ lawsuit.

As previously reported, he was later charged with evading the police by the Contra Costa District Attorney’s Office. Antioch Police submitted a felony charged against Mapp using Vehicle Code (VC) 2800.4, because he drove in the opposite direction while evading police. He could have faced six months to a year in jail or a fine of $1,000 to $10,000, or both. But Contra Costa DA Diana Becton reduced the charge to a misdemeanor using VC 2800.1(a) for just evading police and, if convicted, Mapp could face up to one year in jail. The filing with the court occurred on March 23, the same day Torres-Walker made a $500 contribution to Becton’s re-election committee, according to the DA’s campaign finance report. (See related articles here and here)

A portion of page 1 of COMPLAINT. Source: Dhillon Law Group

Officers Claim “Contemptible Culture” at APD, “Malicious Campaign of Vengeance” by Councilwoman

In their complaint, the officers claim, “Officer Rodriguez and Officer Prieto served their community as dedicated and honorable law enforcement officers for nearly a decade. Over the last two years, Plaintiffs’ (officers’) careers have been railroaded by the collision of two events: a contemptible culture of gender-based discrimination, harassment and retaliation at the Antioch Police Department”.  They also claim, “a malicious campaign of vengeance spearheaded by Defendant Torres-Walker.” The complaint states that her “conduct has been egregious that both Plaintiffs have been placed on stress leave as a result of the emotional distress they have suffered and continue to suffer, jeopardizing their livelihoods, law enforcement careers, and depriving the City of Antioch of two committed officers.”

The officers are requesting a jury trial for their case and for “general, special and compensatory damages; punitive and exemplary damages; civil penalties; pre-judgment interest; and attorneys’ fees and costs.

A case management conference is scheduled for May 17, 2022, at 8:30 AM in Department 21.

City Council Discussed Case in January

The case was discussed by the city council during a closed session meeting on Jan. 25, 2022. – Closed Session Agenda item 4. reads, “CONFERENCE WITH LEGAL COUNSEL – EXISTING LITIGATION – pursuant to California Government Code section 54956.9: Andrea Rodriguez and Calvin Prieto v. City of Antioch et al., Contra Costa County Superior Court Case Number C21-02687.”  But no reportable action was taken during the meeting.

Source: Contra Costa Superior Court

Officers Represented by Civil Rights Attorneys

The officers are represented by three attorneys from the Dhillon Law Firm in San Francisco, including nationally known civil rights attorney Harmeet Dhillon, founder of the Center for American Liberty.

When reached for comment, one of the attorneys for the officers, Jesse Franklin-Murdock, wrote, “Officers Rodriguez and Prieto are hardworking and community-minded public servants. They served the City of Antioch with integrity and professionalism. Officer Rodriguez suffered gender-based discrimination and a hostile work environment at the Antioch Police Department, and both officers suffered retaliation after they opposed illegal, discriminatory practices at APD.”

“Councilmember Torres-Walker further defamed Officer Prieto by telling vicious lies about him in a profane video, and then sought professional retribution against him because her anti-police animus,” Franklin-Murdock continued. “Our office looks forward to seeking justice for both officers and sending a message to the City of Antioch that a culture of discrimination and retaliation cannot continue.”

“The action is indeed in the Martinez division,” the attorney shared. “The Case Management Conference is open to the public and members of the media. It is generally a routine scheduling conference where the court will set case deadlines.”

Lawsuit cover page. Source: Frank Sterling, KPFA Radio

City Attorney Doesn’t Respond to Questions About Lawsuit

On Friday, Feb. 25, 2022, questions were emailed to City Attorney Thomas Lloyd Smith and Torres-Walker, copying the other four council members and former Antioch Police Chief Tammany Brooks asking, “does the city attorney represent a council member if they’re being sued as an individual? Or would they need to get their own counsel? Also, do you have any comments about the lawsuit and what do you expect to result from the Case Management Conference scheduled for May 17, 2022?”

None of them had responded to the email as of Wednesday, March 2, 2022, at noon.

Torres-Walker Doesn’t Know, Yet if City Attorney Will Represent Her or She Needs Outside Counsel

When asked directly if she had to obtain her own legal counsel or if the city attorney is representing her, Torres-Walker responded, “That’s still not clear but I have reached out for consultations.” Asked for clarification, if she had reached out to City Attorney Smith or an outside attorney she responded, “Outside.”

City Doesn’t Respond to Lawsuit

When asked for a copy of the City’s response to the officers’ lawsuit, Rakia Grant-Smith, Executive Legal Assistant for City Attorney Smith wrote, “The City of Antioch received your request for a “copy of a response to the lawsuit on behalf of the City” in regards to the Prieto-Rodriguez complaint. It has been determined that the record sought does not exist.”

In response, they were asked, “isn’t it common practice to respond to a lawsuit within 30 days?”

In addition, Franklin-Murdock was informed of the city attorney’s office claim and asked, Is that true? If not, do you have what the City provided? If it is true, isn’t that unusual for a party to not respond to a lawsuit?”

As of Wednesday, March 2 at noon, neither the city attorney’s office, nor Franklin-Murdock had responded.

City Attorney, Interim Police Chief Won’t Say if New Investigator Hired

Last fall, City Attorney Smith and then-City Manager Ron Bernal said they would hire another outside investigator.

Questions were sent Friday afternoon, Feb. 25 to Smith and Interim Police Chief Tony Morefield asking, “has another outside investigator been hired for the investigation into the police incident with Councilwoman Torres-Walker’s sons riding their dirt bikes on city streets? If so, when did that occur and is that investigation completed? If not, is that currently ongoing? If not, do you still plan to hire another outside investigator in the matter, please?”

As of Wednesday, March 2 at noon, they had not yet responded.

Interim Police Chief Offered Opportunity to Respond to Accusations Against Department

On Wednesday afternoon, March 2, 2022, Interim Police Chief was also sent a copy of the lawsuit and given the opportunity to respond on behalf of the department.

Please check back later for any updates to this report.

the attachments to this post:

Portion of page 1 of COMPLAINT

Antioch cops’ lawsuit cover pg 12-28-21

COMPLAINT-Rodriguez & Prieto v. City of Antioch & Torres-Walker

Antioch cops’ lawsuit case Pending Hearings

Antioch cops’ lawsuit case timeline

Antioch cops’ lawsuit case Party Names

Antioch cops’ lawsuit case Complaints & Parties

APD Officers lawsuit vs Torres-Walker & City

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