The Los Angeles Police Department’s response has been called into question after a captain sued over a fake topless photo circulated by coworkers that she contended resulted in her hospitalization on Christmas Eve
LAPD Capt. Lillian Carranza is a 33-year veteran of the police force leading multiple divisions having gone from Commanding Officer of Commercial Crimes to her current post as Commanding Officer of Gang and Narcotics. Now, after initially filing suit in Jan. 2019 that superiors knew a reportedly photoshopped image of her had been circulating and hadn’t informed her, testimony was heard Thursday from representatives of the defense, including LAPD Chief Michel Moore, according to the Los Angeles Times.
As she asserted in court documents, Carranza said she felt “hurt, abandoned and devalued by my superiors…who took no steps to prevent known harm to me from occurring and who stood by and watched, encouraged or simply looked the other way as I was ridiculed, humiliated and degraded by fellow LAPD employees, despite my persistent pleas for help.”
The Times reported that the alleged photo had been circulated at the then-Staple Center in 2018 when it was believed 10 to 13 officers had seen the image. Carranza asserted that her superiors were aware of the image and that their failure to intercede on her behalf left her humiliated and, as her attorney, Greg Smith told jurors after the plaintiff learned from a colleague about the image, her blood pressure climbed so high that she was hospitalized on Christmas Eve.
“I noted that the facial features of the woman in the picture bore a striking resemblance to me, although the photograph was not actually of me,” the captain further stated in the documents. “In fact, I concluded that my own eye appears to have been photoshopped into the picture.”
As to the silence from the LAPD instead of issuing a public statement to reprimand any officer who may have been behind the circulation of the photo, Moore testified Thursday that it was considered in the best interest of all parties to keep the matter quiet, unlike another public release the department had undergone based on inappropriate content circulated by an officer.
“They are not on the same scale,” the chief said of a departmentwide message issued over a meme shared by an officer in 2021 making light of the death of George Floyd while in Minneapolis police custody in 2020. “It needed a response to an entire world,” he argued based on how the public might react to the LAPD.
— Earl Smith, PhD (@smithea1) February 15, 2021
Ahead of her scheduled testimony Tuesday, it is worth noting that Carranza has been publicly lauded by the department on multiple occasions as her suit has been pending, including at least two consecutive mentions of her achievements as part of Women’s History Month.
Join us in honoring Captain Lillian Carranza, who joined the LAPD in 1989. She’s served as a Big Sister, member of multiple professional organizations, obtained her Master’s degree from USC & is currently the Commanding Officer of Commercial Crimes Division.#WomensHistoryMonth pic.twitter.com/t13DLg7qYE
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 29, 2021
In recognition of Women’s History Month we honor Captain Lillian Carranza, who joined the LAPD in 1989 and is currently assigned as the Commanding Officer of Gang and Narcotics Division. pic.twitter.com/KWb2uSjAhY
— LAPD HQ (@LAPDHQ) March 22, 2022
Moore’s testimony on the need to keep the matter quiet was also shared by former Deputy Chief Debra McCarthy who ran the investigation. Despite Carranza’s request that the LAPD tell her fellow officers that the image was not her, the decision was made to keep the matter under wraps to protect the ongoing investigation.
According to the Times, Carranza’s suit came just months after the City Council approved $1.8 million in restitution to another female officer who had alleged an internal affairs lieutenant of sexual harassment. As the case went, the lieutenant was said to have ordered surveillance on the officer after she had refused his romantic advances.
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