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ETHICS ALERT: Sheriff Villanueva Uses County-Paid Public Notice System to Slam Harassment Lawsuit

By Brian Hews

October 19, 2022~In an extremely questionable and obvious politically motivated maneuver, embattled L.A. County Sheriff Alex Villanueva used a county-paid public notification system – utilized by police and other agencies to send out emergency notifications to the public – to slam Lt. Joseph Garrido, who recently filed a harassment lawsuit against Villanueva.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in L.A. County Superior Court against the county, Villanueva, and other sheriff’s officials, Garrido claims a donation to retired Cmdr. Eli Vera’s campaign triggered a bogus criminal probe into whether he misused a department-issued vehicle.

Villanueva used Nixle, a public system paid for by the county, to attack Garrido and his attorney Vincent Miller.

Anyone can subscribe to Nixle and receive emergency texts such as “Sheriff’s Homicide Detectives are continuing their investigation into what appears to be a possible accidental shooting in East Los Angeles on Saturday evening.”

But a user cannot violate its terms, which Villanueva clearly did.

Under Nixle’s Terms of Service, the Sender MAY NOT:

(a) act in an unwanted, threatening, harassing, abusive or offensive manner toward any recipient;

(b) use any of the Services for political, commercial or advertising purposes;

(d) post, submit or otherwise do anything with the Services, Content, or Web Site that is unlawful, harmful, tortious, defamatory, profane, obscene, libelous, or hateful to the average user;

(k) transmit fraudulent, deceptive, or misleading communications.”

 

The subject line of Villanueva’s email read: Advisory: YET ANOTHER FRIVOLOUS LAWSUIT.

Opening the email, Nixle users, who typically look for an emergency public notice, read the following with a picture of Villanueva on the right:

Dear Nixle User,

Several months after a criminal and administrative investigation began regarding alleged misconduct by Joseph Garrido, he has filed a lawsuit and claimed whistleblower status. Absent from this lawsuit is any explanation as to why Mr. Garrido supposedly witnessed misconduct, yet took no action for years until after he was under investigation. Although we look forward to challenging these lies in the proper venue, a court of law, we will address one of these blatant and demonstrably false lies now. 

Among the many false statements contained within this lawsuit, we will focus on the tragic death of a Department K-9 named “Spike.”

Please read the October 6, 2020, memorandum regarding the supervisory inquiry into this unfortunate tragedy which details the incident and the actions which took place to prevent it from happening again.Exploitation of a tragic loss like this in pursuit of financial gain is what we have come to expect from Attorney Vincent Miller, and we look forward to vigorously challenging this case in Court.

Garrido worked in the Special Enforcement Bureau and oversaw the Canine Services and Special Enforcement details. He reported the death of a police dog, Spike, who allegedly succumbed to overheating after being left in a hot car by his sheriff’s department sergeant handler.

Garrido alleges Villanueva quashed an investigation into the dog’s death to avoid “bad media” for himself and the department.

Garrido’s court papers stated, “Shockingly, Villanueva did not even do a tribute, internally at LASD and/or publicly, for Spike, and talk of Spike’s years of loyal service before his tragic death.” 

Villanueva used the public system and attached a statement explaining that a sheriff’s department captain reviewed the animal’s death and concluded that the sergeant “followed the protocols” in place for all police dog handlers and was not negligent. The sergeant’s car had previously had problems with its air conditioning, according to the memo.

The entire Term of Service can be found by clicking here.

Department Memorandum click here.

 

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