SANTA ANA — Westminster's fire chief has filed a lawsuit against the city, charging that officials violated his privacy by demanding that he undergo psychiatric evaluation after he refused to send his firefighters to Los Angeles during the riots.
Chief D'Wayne Scott, 51, a 22-year veteran of the department, was placed on paid administrative leave May 27. The action took place nearly a month after the Los Angeles riots, which began after not guilty verdicts were returned in the trial of four officers accused of beating Rodney G. King.
Before placing Scott on leave for at least a month, the City Council met in a closed session May 18 to discuss the chief's performance. After the meeting, Scott says in his lawsuit, City Manager Jerry Kenny requested that he undergo a psychological evaluation to determine if his performance as chief has been "adversely affected" by an alleged drinking problem.
In his lawsuit, Scott neither confirmed nor denied that he has a drinking problem. However, he argued that if city officials suspected he did, then under city policy they should have allowed him to seek consultation on his own.
Scott's Orange County Superior Court lawsuit stated that he was placed on leave when he refused to participate in the mandatory testing. Scott contended that city officials violated his privacy and personnel rights along with his due process when they met in "secret" and discussed his job performance without telling him before or after the meeting what they talked about.
Although he was told he was placed on leave because he refused to be evaluated, Scott said in the lawsuit that the real reason for his suspension was his controversial decision not to send firefighters to aid Los Angeles County on April 29.
Scott maintains in his lawsuit that his action was appropriate because there was inadequate police protection for his firefighters.