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L.A. airport police officer who was fired last May wins job back

Rodney J. Rouzan is reinstated after a civil service proceeding concludes that his termination for assault with a deadly weapon was based on inconsistencies, weak evidence and erroneous statements.

March 11, 2013|By Dan Weikel, Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles airport police officer who was fired last May has won his job back after a civil service proceeding concluded that his termination for alleged assault with a deadly weapon was based on overwhelming inconsistencies, weak evidence and erroneous statements.

The city's Board of Civil Service Commissioners decided Feb. 28 that Officer Rodney J. Rouzan, a 12-year veteran of the Los Angeles Airport Police Department, should be returned to duty without any loss of pay or benefits.

None of the six charges against Rouzan for allegedly violating department policies were found to be credible by Judy Gust, the commission's hearing examiner. Gust also questioned the actions of interim Police Chief Michael Hymans, internal affairs investigators and Paula Adams, the human resources director for Los Angeles World Airports. All had a hand in Rouzan's firing.

"I'm happy that justice has been served and the truth has now been exposed," said Rouzan, 34, of Lancaster, who is married and the father of two boys. "It's been a living hell for me and my family. I look forward to again serving the public at the airport police department."

Airport officials defended their actions against the officer. In a statement, they said, "Los Angeles World Airports stands by our investigation and the disciplinary action we took. We strive to have the highest conduct by our sworn officers and all other employees. But now that the Civil Service Commission has made its determination, we will abide by it."

According to case records, Rouzan's termination stemmed from a feud and court battle with his neighbor and former business partner, who accused the officer of threatening him and two of his employees with a gun after they repeatedly tried to serve Rouzan with legal documents in the doorway of his home Oct. 15, 2010. A few months earlier, Rouzan officially notified a court that he intended to collect a $4,000 judgment he had won against his former partner.

Commission records state that sheriff's deputies investigated the alleged incident and concluded that no crime had occurred. The deputies also suggested that Rouzan get a restraining order against the men and his former business partner.

After a complaint was filed with airport police, investigators alleged that Rouzan pointed his gun twice at the men, once in the garage and once while running across his property to confront them. Claiming that his actions conflicted with his duties as a police officer and violated policies forbidding illegal behavior, the department fired Rouzan on May 22, 2010.

Gust said in her report that she was not persuaded by the police department's witnesses because of their inconsistent descriptions of the incident and because they had hostile motives stemming from Rouzan's earlier court victory. She noted that the men did not tell sheriff's deputies that Rouzan had pointed a gun at them — something they later told airport police investigators.

The hearing examiner concluded that Adams, the airport's human resources director, erroneously stated in a memo related to the case that Rouzan admitted displaying his weapon but denied pointing it at the men. Gust noted there was no evidence of such an admission and that Rouzan had stated the opposite.

Gust further ruled that there was nothing to support Rouzan's assertions that he was fired because of his race — he is African American — and his union activity as then-treasurer of the Los Angeles Airport Peace Officers Assn.

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