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South Bay Digest

Hawthorne : Gun Held to Head, Chief Says

May 29, 1986

In dramatic but challenged testimony, Hawthorne Police Chief Kenneth Stonebraker said in federal court that former Police Officer Sheri Barberic pointed a loaded pistol at his head during a confrontational interview before putting the weapon down on the chief's desk.

Barberic, 32, who was forced by Stonebraker to retire in 1984, now receives a lifetime tax-free pension of $1,200 a month from the city. She is suing Hawthorne for $1 million and reinstatement, contending that she is fit for police work and that Stonebraker had denied her a hearing.

In forcing Barberic out, Stonebraker alleged that she was insubordinate and psychologically unfit for police work. He also cited a number of cases in which Barberic was accused of using excessive force and said there were $5 million in lawsuits naming her as defendant.

In an interview after a two-day non-jury trial, Stonebraker said he had been frightened by Barberic's allgeed gesture. But Barberic's attorney, Gerald Sato, said Stonebraker was not credible as a witness. "As far as I am concerned, there was no incident with a gun. My client was never prosecuted for pulling a gun on the chief of police. I just don't think it is credible."

Closing arguments in the case are scheduled for Friday.

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