After learning this week that he could face even stiffer penalties, a Glendale police sergeant withdrew his appeal of a 10-day suspension he served last July for drawing what officials called a racially derogatory cartoon.
Sgt. Randall Tampa, 34, said he instead will file a Superior Court suit contesting the Glendale Civil Service Commission's power to increase the penalty, said his attorney, Cecil W. Marr.
"We simply cannot go forward and risk a loss of job or demotion when in fact all that is at stake is a 10-day suspension," Marr told commissioners Tuesday afternoon.
The Glendale City Charter allows the city's Civil Service Commission to increase or reduce a penalty against a city employee. Marr said that power denies a government worker his right to appeal disciplinary actions.
Commission Chairman Evan J. McLean told Marr that the commission was not "inclined" to stiffen the penalty. But, he said, commissioners could not guarantee that no such action would occur.
Tampa's suspension stems from an incident on July 15, 1986, when Tampa drew two figures on a Police Department chalkboard. One figure represented an officer with his hand clenched in a black power salute; the second depicted a panther.
Tampa conceded that he displayed the drawings to officers during roll call and asked them: "Which one is the real black panther?"
"His intent . . . was one that was non-discriminatory, non-racial and non-derogatory," Marr said Tuesday.
The attorney said the drawings were part of a continuing department joke relating to a black Glendale police officer's sighting in a wooded Glendale neighborhood of what he believed was a panther.
When Los Angeles police arrived to assist the officer, Marr said, they quipped that they received calls about "a different kind of Black Panther," referring to the militant black rights organization.
Tampa also drew and circulated around the department several other cartoons used as key evidence in last year's federal trial in which a jury found that the department had discriminated against a Latino officer.