White Cops Called Latino Officer 'Dirty Sanchez,' But Deny Racism In Federal Trial

Three Latino cops say white officers won gravy-train rides to promotions
A lawyer for three Orange County cops who claim an anti-Latino bias inside the Westminster Police Department (WPD) blocked their promotions said in today's opening trial statement that a "good old boy's club" preferred to advance inferior, often tainted white cops.

"This is a case about a lack of opportunity," said plaintiff's attorney Bernard Alexander. "There were two paths [of employment] inside the Westminster Police Department. One led to opportunity. One led to nowhere. These three [Latino cops Jose Flores, Ryan Reyes and Brian Perez] were placed on a path to nowhere."

Alexander told a jury of four women and four men inside the Ronald Reagan Federal Courthouse in Santa Ana that statistics prove WPD routinely gave white cops important detective tasks necessary to win advancement to a sergeant's position, but stuck Latinos with serving essentially as "mall cops."

"This is unequal treatment for people that are Latino," said Alexander, who also has undisputed evidence that senior, white WPD officials routinely called officer Flores "Dirty Sanchez," an obscene reference to anal sexual activity and oral fecal matter.

But Melanie M. Poturica, the lawyer representing WPD, told the jury the plaintiffs didn't win promotions for several reasons, including that more qualified white officers had applied at the same time and that the complaining Latino cops were either lazy or dishonest or both.

Poturica read a list of names of Latino officers hired and promoted since 2002, claimed all the police chiefs were unaware of any discrimination concerns, and noted that management's overarching goal has been to place officers in slots that best serve city residents.

Alexander claimed that WPD also retaliated against the complaining officers by opening unwarranted internal-affairs investigations to soil their reputations prior to this trial inside U.S. District Court Judge David O. Carter's courtroom.

Poturica said the evidence will show no retaliation.

Her credibility might have been enhanced had she not made a lame, hamfisted move.

She placed WPD's most senior Latino officer--who is not a defendant--beside all the white defendants in the courtroom.

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Email: rscottmoxley@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @RScottMoxley.

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