LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A longtime Los Angeles police sergeant is suing the city of Los Angeles, alleging the SWAT unit is run by a “SWAT Mafia'' of veteran officers who favor using deadly force and who ostracized those who oppose their behavior.
Sgt. Tim Colomey, who joined SWAT in 2008 and was the most senior sergeant in the unit, filed a whistleblower lawsuit Monday in Los Angeles Superior Court. He seeks unspecified damages.
Rob Wilcox, a spokesman for the City Attorney's Office, said his office will review the complaint, but he had no further comment.
“Under the surface ... SWAT is controlled by a group of (officers) who glamorize the use of lethal force and who direct the promotions of officers who share the same values while maligning the reputations of officers who do not,'' according to the suit, which seeks unspecified damages.
The lieutenants and sergeants in SWAT are all aware of the group's existence and influence and a significant number of the supervisors participate both in acquiescing to the group as well as in undermining nonconforming officers and supervisors, according to the complaint.
In addition, SWAT's command staff are aware of the “serious and systemic problems that are linked to the SWAT Mafia's power, but they have all turned a blind eye to these problems,'' the suit alleges.
“Tragically, the SWAT Mafia's substantial influence, combined with supervisors' implicit sanctioning of that influence, has ultimately served to poison the entire unit,'' the suit states.
For example, SWAT officers who have chosen not to use lethal force in suspect encounters, and who have instead sought to deescalate conflicts, have been ostracized and labeled “cowards'' by the “SWAT Mafia,'' the suit states.
“These officers will never succeed or promote within SWAT,'' the suit states.
In September 2018, the LAPD's Internal Affairs unit began investigating a complaint that compared the culture within SWAT to the LAPD Rampart Scandal from the late 1990s, the suit states. Colomey was interviewed in March 2019 and revealed how the “SWAT Mafia'' members exert control over the unit, the suit states.
“Soon thereafter, SWAT Lt. Lee McMillion began treating plaintiff with hostility and criticizing him for trivial matters,'' the suit states.
Colomey left SWAT last October for a post at Los Angeles International Airport, his attorney, Diana Wang Wells, told the Los Angeles Times.
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