A former Paso Robles Police Department officer has filed a claim with the city alleging workplace retaliation that he says resulted from negotiating employee pay contracts in 2011 during his tenure as president of the police officers’ employee union.
David Hernandez, who resigned in January, filed the claim July 5. The city Monday released a copy of the claim, which is a document that’s often a precursor to a lawsuit. Hernandez’s claim details only one side of the issue. Paso Robles City Manager Jim App declined to comment.The claim is the third action against the city in recent months, following two lawsuits involving Police Department matters and the resignation of former police Chief Lisa Solomon.
The claim lists the city of Paso Robles and 100 unnamed respondents. Solomon is only listed by name in the claim’s narrative.
She resigned in April after former officer Brennan Lux accused her of sexual harassment and another officer, Jon Tatro, filed a separate lawsuit claiming officers were required to meet illegal ticket quotas.
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Lux sued the city in May, alleging harassment and saying Solomon retaliated against him after he declined her advances, which he says led to his termination last fall.
Solomon could not be reached to comment Monday.
According to Hernandez’s claim, he questioned city leaders during a city budget forecast meeting last summer about hiring a sergeant when the force was hurting in patrol, then later filed a public records request seeking management pay contracts for use in his negotiations as president of the Paso Robles Police Officers Association.
The claim says sergeants within the Police Department warned Hernandez that his activities had upset the “higher-ups in the department,” particularly Solomon.
In the fall, Hernandez was placed on administrative leave, which the claim alleges occurred after city officials monitored videotape footage of him in his patrol car that reportedly found him speeding twice.
The city often uses patrol car footage to catch infractions committed by officers it’s attempting to terminate, Hernandez alleges in his claim.
The first videotaped incident occurred last September, when Hernandez transported to County Jail a belligerent drunk suspect who was cursing at him and thrashing from the back seat, the claim states.
The footage reportedly showed Hernandez briefly exchanging curse words with a suspect while driving at “a high rate of speed for a short amount of time.”
Hernandez did so, the claim says, to reach the jail faster so he could calm the situation.
Hernandez reportedly sped again on another day while responding to a call for backup for a foot pursuit, the claim says.
Shortly after the two incidents, according to the claim, Hernandez said he was placed on administrative leave. Then, three months later, Solomon told him he would be suspended for 14 days and asked to take a psychological exam.In January, he resigned rather than undergo the “wholly unwarranted” exam, according to the claim, noting that he felt as though he was being forced out of his job.
Hernandez is seeking unspecified damages plus attorney fees.