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SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA / A news summary | The Local Review

4 Ex-Officers, Union File Rights Suit Against Compton

September 29, 2000

COMPTON — Four former police officers and their union filed a federal civil rights lawsuit late Thursday against the Compton city government, the mayor and the former police chief.

The suit stems from a no-confidence vote against Mayor Omar Bradley by the police union last January, and a subsequent City Council meeting at which several officers confronted Bradley and the acting chief, Ramon Allen. The four officers allege they were punished for exercising their First Amendment rights to gather and criticize their bosses.

The suit is the latest of a half-dozen legal challenges against the city by former police officers or unions. Although the Compton police force was disbanded Sept. 16 and replaced by the Sheriff's Department, litigation is likely to linger for years.

"These lawsuits are really sour grapes at this point," complained city spokesman Keith Davis, who denied the suit's allegations.

The four officers--Eddie Aguirre, Marvin E. Branscomb, Tim Brennan, and Robert Ladd--have all taken jobs as deputy sheriffs.

The suit claims that from the time of the council meeting, Bradley and Allen sought to dismantle the department because they wanted to silence critics. At times, the suit says, Bradley offered to call off efforts to replace the Compton police with sheriff's deputies if union leaders apologized. The mayor has said he contracted with the sheriff to reduce crime and put more officers on the streets.

After their protests, Ladd, who spent 17 years on the Compton force, and Aguirre, an eight-year veteran, were placed on leave for six weeks and given three-day suspensions for appearing at the City Council meeting. Branscomb, a detective for 16 years, got two separate suspensions totaling 13 days. Brennan, an 18-year veteran, was not suspended, according to the suit.

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