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Policeman Is Suspended in Year-Old Slur Case

July 23, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

A Glendale police sergeant was suspended 10 days without pay this month for drawing what officials called a racially derogatory cartoon a year ago.

The drawing was among evidence in a federal trial last year that found the Police Department racially biased.

Sgt. Randall Tampa, who acknowledged that he drew the cartoon, will appeal the suspension before the Glendale Civil Service Commission, his attorney, Cecil W. Marr, said. Tampa is back at work.

On July 15, 1986, Tampa displayed to officers during roll call two figures he drew on the department chalkboard, Marr said. One figure was of a black officer with his fist clenched in a black power salute; the second was of a panther. Tampa then asked his subordinates: "Which one is the real black panther?"

Marr said the incident was just one in a series of gags relating the sighting by a black Glendale police officer of what may have been a panther in a rural area of Glendale.

Marr said that, when officers from the Los Angeles Police Department arrived to assist the Glendale officer, they jokingly remarked that they receive calls about "a different kind of black panther," referring to the militant black rights organization of the same name.

"Randy did not mean it as a racial thing. He meant it as a gag. . . . It was only after the trial that they started viewing it as perhaps racial," Marr said of the drawings.

The drawing was among several by Tampa used as evidence in the federal trial showing what Latino officer Ricardo L. Jauregui said was a climate of racial bias in the department.

Last October, Jauregui won the lawsuit in which he claimed he was passed up for promotion to sergeant in favor of Tampa and other less-qualified Anglo officers. A federal judge ordered Jauregui's promotion with back pay to February, 1985. The promotion is pending until an appeal by Glendale is heard.

"From Randy's perspective, the discipline is unnecessary. . . . He's been educated now and really understands the problems," Marr said.

When asked why it took the Glendale Police Department nearly a year to cite Tampa, Glendale City Atty. Frank R. Manzano replied: "They were studying the situation . . . the ramifications of his conduct and how it will affect the lawsuit that is pending."

"For Glendale, perhaps, it's a little longer than average," Marr said of the delay. "But I've had disciplinary cases from other departments of up to three years or four years. As a matter of law, a year is not long."

The Tampa suspension is the most recent offshoot of the Jauregui trial.

In March, Ronald Jenkins, a black officer, filed suit against the city, claiming he is being harassed in retaliation for his testimony about racial bias in the Jauregui trial. That case is pending.

In May, Siegfried Dale Faucette, another black officer who testified in the trial, was fired for his involvement in an off-duty fight with a hospital security guard in Hollywood. Marr, who is also Faucette's attorney, called the firing overly harsh and said the dismissal may have been in retaliation for Faucette's testimony. He is appealing the action.

Also in May, Jauregui was suspended four days after being accused of slapping a teen-ager during a February, 1987, arrest. The teen-ager's mother filed a complaint against Jauregui, but later withdrew it after her son admitted committing the robbery of which he had been accused.

The Police Department decided nevertheless to pursue the assault complaint and suspend the officer. Jauregui's attorney, David Alkire, charged the department with harassing Jauregui for his courtroom victory.

However, on Wednesday afternoon the city decided to drop the complaint for lack of evidence, and restore the pay Jauregui lost during the suspension.

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