Los Angeles – A jury awarded $13.1 million in damages Wednesday to two male Los Angeles police officers who sued the city for gender discrimination, alleging they were singled out in an internal investigation into whoever drew a Hitler-like mustache on an arrestee.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the case stems from a January 2017 incident in which officers Stephen Glick and Alfred Garcia and their two female police partners responded to a suspected drunk driving collision, according to their suit.
The officers arrested a motorist. After he was found passed out in his jail cell, he was taken to an area hospital, the suit says. Two days later, the man lodged a complaint with the police department, alleging that his eyebrows and mustache had been shaved off, and someone had drawn various objects on his body with a sharpie, including a Hitler-style mustache, eyebrows, male genitalia and spelled out a Spanish slur that roughly translates to “male prostitute.”
According to the suit, when the department launched an investigation into the incident, internal affairs detectives automatically cast suspicion on the pair rather than on their female partners.
The lawsuit alleges that the male officers were targeted despite video evidence that they were never alone with the suspect.
“All of the evidence pointed to gender discrimination, from focusing on the males to the exclusion of the females,” said attorney Matt McNicholas, who filed the suit on the officers’ behalf.
Then-police chief Charlie Beck eventually recommended the officers be fired for allegations of battery, and they were directed to a disciplinary panel called a board of rights, according to the suit.
Glick and Garcia were eventually cleared of wrongdoing without appearing before a board of rights panel, but they still suffered career setbacks as a result of the incident, their suit says.
After four days of testimony, the jury came back with a unanimous verdict awarding the officers damages. The city could still contest the monetary amount.