The sergeant who once trained Los Angeles police officers in the use of force was awarded $150,000 Wednesday to settle his allegation that he was demoted in retaliation for his testimony against fellow officers, including those involved in the beating of Rodney G. King.
The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously to make the payment to Fred Nichols, who is now retired, to resolve his lawsuit against the city and several top police administrators, including former Chief Daryl F. Gates.
Nichols got high marks in department evaluations when he headed the department's self-defense and use-of-force training section, his lawsuit said. But, according to his lawsuit, he fell into disfavor in 1991 when he told a grand jury that officers in the King case used excessive force.
Nichols charged that he also inspired the wrath of Gates and other LAPD top brass when he criticized them before the Christopher Commission and when he testified in a criminal trial that two Long Beach officers had used excessive force in subduing activist Don Jackson. The 17-year LAPD employee said he was further ostracized because he was one of the few black supervisors on the force.
City lawyers defending the case said Nichols was never demoted, never lost wages and that his removal as head of the training section was not retaliatory.