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Westminster police officers get $3.5 million in discrimination suit

Santa Ana jury decides that the three officers were continually passed over for promotion because they are Latino.

March 07, 2014|By Adolfo Flores
  • Jury selection is set to begin in the discrimination case of three Latino police officers in Westminster who claim they were passed over for promotions repeatedly.
Jury selection is set to begin in the discrimination case of three Latino… (Glenn Koenig / Los Angeles…)

A federal jury has awarded $3.5 million to three Westminster police officers who said they were continually being passed over for promotions and assigned to "mall duty" because they are Latino.

After deliberating for about three days, the Santa Ana jury returned a verdict Thursday, finding that officers Jose Flores, Ryan Reyes and Brian Perez, should get damages for discrimination, said Melanie Poturica, an attorney representing the Orange County city.

"In many ways this is a historic victory for officers of color," said Victor Viramontes, an attorney representing the officers.

"This is a tremendous victory for the three officers who were brave enough to come forward and challenge the culture at Westminster that refused to promote Latinos," Viramontes said.

In addition to the city, the discrimination lawsuit named Police Chief Kevin Baker and three former police chiefs, Mitchell Waller, Andy Hall and Ron Coopman.

The jury found that all four officials discriminated against the officers. They also found that all but Hall retaliated against the three defendants.

Attorneys for Westminster said they would have to analyze the verdict before deciding on their next move.

adolfo.flores@latimes.com

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