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Judge OKs deputy's lawsuit alleging retaliation after Mel Gibson arrest

Deputy James Mee says supervisors discriminated against him after he resisted requests to leave Mel Gibson's alleged anti-Semitic remarks out of his report on the 2006 drunk driving arrest.

February 23, 2011|By Robert Faturechi, Los Angeles Times
  • Deputy James Mee says Sheriff's Department supervisors passed him over for promotions and unfairly scrutinized his performance after he arrested Mel Gibson in 2006.
Deputy James Mee says Sheriff's Department supervisors passed him… (Nick Ut / Associated Press )

A judge refused Tuesday to throw out a lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy who alleges he faced retaliation from supervisors after arresting actor Mel Gibson on suspicion of drunk driving in 2006.

During the arrest, Gibson allegedly made anti-Semitic slurs, which the deputy documented in his initial arrest report. Deputy James Mee said he resisted a supervisor's request to omit Gibson's derogatory remarks from the report. Since then, Mee has been passed over for promotions and had his job performance unfairly scrutinized, his attorneys said.

"When considering the evidence, a jury could easily see the discrimination, retaliation and harassment James Mee suffered at the Sheriff's Department," said his attorney Etan Z. Lorant.

Yael Trock, also representing Mee, said she was pleased to get the chance to show a jury how the deputy's career was harmed because he reported Gibson's anti-Semitic remarks.

Sheriff's officials have denied Mee's allegations. The motion requesting dismissal was filed by the county last year.

"We look forward to telling the whole story," sheriff's spokesman Steve Whitmore said.

Mee, who is still employed by the department, said he included the actor's slurs in his report to illustrate how drunk Gibson was. "The Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world," Gibson said, according to Mee.

But he said he was asked to remove the comments from his initial report and put them in a supplementary report not immediately available to the public.

Mee's attorneys allege Gibson was given special treatment because he was a friend of Sheriff Lee Baca and had appeared in a public service announcement for a department-administered nonprofit. Sheriff's officials have denied any intervention by Baca.

Mee said he eventually followed orders to write separate reports. A memo from prosecutors later confirmed that he was instructed to write a supplemental report to be placed in a locked safe along with a bottle of tequila found in Gibson's vehicle and a recording of his booking.

The trial is set for September, Trock said.

robert.faturechi@latimes.com

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