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LASD lieutenant files lawsuit against Sheriff Alex Villanueva for K-9 death

Sheriff Alex Villanueva the target of another whistleblower lawsuit
Sheriff Alex Villanueva the target of another whistleblower lawsuit 02:30

A Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department lieutenant joined the growing list of department members suing the agency and the county for retaliating against a whistleblower. 

"This has happened over and over again and nobody is holding the sheriff accountable," said attorney Vincent Miller, who is representing the LASD Lieutenant. 

In his lawsuit, Lt. Joseph Garrido seeks at least $10 million in total damages for alleged whistleblower retaliation, civil rights violations, violation of the state Civil Code and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

During his tenure at the department, Garrido worked in the Special Enforcement Bureau and monitored the Canine Services and Special Enforcement details. Garrido alleges that he was retaliated against after he reported the death of a K-9 named Spike. 

The dog allegedly died after being left in a hot car by an LASD sergeant. Villanueva allegedly quashed the subsequent investigation to avoid "bad media" for himself and the department, according to Garrido. 

"The Sheriff's Department, they completely covered up the death of Spike," said Miller. "This is a painful death of overheating in a car. And he's not just a dog — Spike is a cop helping to find evidence and take the bad guys to jail."

Garrido alleges that the department reversed a promotion he was granted and attempted to destroy his career by making him the subject of a trumped-up criminal investigation. According to the court papers, the department allegedly told his neighbors in a letter that Garrido had stolen a vehicle. 

"He had his latest promotion reversed. It was taken away by Sheriff Villanueva," said Miller. "Then they subjected him to a fake criminal investigation."

The lawsuit claims that the lieutenant's emotional distress kept him out of work for months and was in an essence "constructively terminated" by the county.

Additionally, the lawsuit also claims the Sheriff and his inner circle retaliated against Garrido for supporting the sheriff's opponent, Eli Vera, during the election. 

"The sheriff, of course, retaliated against my client simply because he was exercising his free speech rights because he gave money to a rival candidate for sheriff," said Miller. "That's illegal to retaliate against someone for exercising their free speech rights."

Garrido is one of several current and former sheriff's employees alleging the department retaliated against them for whistleblowing. This includes Commander Allen Castellano, former Assistant Sheriff Robin Limon and retired Chief LaJuana Haselrig.

"We've seen this over and over again, Sheriff Villanueva retaliating against whistleblowers," said Miller. 

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