A former Los Angeles police sergeant who characterized his SWAT unit as trigger-happy is claiming whistleblower status in a lawsuit.
LOS ANGELES, CA — A lawsuit filed by a longtime former Los Angeles Police Sergeant who alleged that the SWAT unit is run by a “SWAT mob” of veteran officers who favor the use of deadly force and condemn the ostracizing those who oppose his behavior, should be dismissed because he is not the whistleblower he claims to be, the City Attorney’s Office maintains in new court documents.
Sergeant Tim Colomey joined SWAT in 2008 and was the ranking sergeant in the unit. He filed his whistleblower retaliation lawsuit in January 2021 in Los Angeles Superior Court.
“Below the surface… SWAT is controlled by a group of (officers) who exalt the use of deadly force and direct the promotions of officers who share the same values while smearing the reputation of officers who do not,” according to the lawsuit, which is seeking unspecified damages.
But according to court papers filed Monday with Judge Jon R. Takasugi seeking dismissal of the plaintiff’s lawsuit, Colomey has failed to file a basic whistleblowing case because he did not engage in “protected activity” as required by the Code. State labor.
“In other words, the plaintiff is not a whistleblower,” court documents from the City Attorney’s Office state. “The conduct alleged by the complainant consists solely of internal personnel matters.”
Finding that Colomey’s complaints constituted whistleblower activity “would push courts to micromanage LAPD training, selection, internal communication between supervisors and non-supervisors, deployment practices, and investigations of use of force.” , argues the City Attorney’s Office in its court documents.
The LAPD SWAT unit has been the subject of extensive research and analysis, resulting in changes designed to improve SWAT that are ongoing, according to court documents from the City Attorney’s Office.
Hired in 1995, Colomey joined the LAPD SWAT Unit as a 2nd Sergeant in September 2008 and remained with the unit until October 2019. From 2013 to 2018, Colomey was the lead supervisor for the SWAT training school through which candidates are selected to join the unit.
According to Colomey’s lawsuit, all SWAT lieutenants and sergeants are aware of the alleged existence and influence of the SWAT Mafia and a significant number of supervisors are involved in both pandering to the group and undermining non-compliant officers and supervisors.
Additionally, SWAT command staff are aware of the “serious and systemic issues that are tied to the power of the SWAT Mafia, but have all turned a blind eye to these issues,” the lawsuit alleges.
“Tragically, the SWAT Mafia’s substantial influence, combined with supervisors’ implicit sanction of that influence, has ultimately served to poison the entire unit,” the lawsuit states.
For example, SWAT officers who chose not to use deadly force in encounters with suspects and who instead sought to de-escalate conflicts have been ostracized and labeled “cowards” by the “SWAT Mafia,” claims the demand.
“These officers will never succeed or rise within SWAT,” the lawsuit states.
In September 2018, the LAPD’s Internal Affairs unit began investigating a complaint comparing the culture within SWAT to the LAPD’s Rampart scandal of the late 1990s, according to the lawsuit. Colomey was interviewed in March 2019 and revealed how members of the “SWAT Mafia” exert control over the unit, the lawsuit says.
“Shortly thereafter, SWAT Lt. Lee McMillion began treating plaintiff with hostility and criticized him over trivial matters,” the lawsuit states.
Colomey left SWAT in 2019 for a position at Los Angeles International Airport. A hearing on the city’s dismissal motion is scheduled for Aug. 15.
city news service