A fake nude photo of an LAPD captain allegedly shared by officers may have “smeared her,” but the police chief said he didn’t send a department-wide message about it because he feared “it had the potential to go viral.”
Los Angeles Police Chief Michel Moore testified Thursday in Captain Lillian Carranza’s lawsuit against the department that the image was intended to “mock, embarrass or harass or defame” the veteran female leader.
But after Carranza filed an official complaint in late 2018 and asked Moore to inform the force’s 13,000 members that the photo was fake, he declined, saying it could be “a viral interest, human or otherwise” and a ” “Creating potential for further embarrassment” while others may be searching for the image.
Carranza, a 33-year veteran with the Los Angeles Police Department who then commanded the commercial crimes unit and now heads the gang and narcotics unit, claims LAPD executives knew the image was being circulated, along with derogatory ones comments about her, but didn’t bring it to her attention. Instead, she learned about the photo from a colleague.
The trial, which began this week, sheds light on one of several allegations by women in the department that describe a crude, sexist culture within the ranks that is too often tolerated.
In her lawsuit, Carranza seeks damages for emotional distress, sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. She is due to testify on Tuesday.
Carranza was so deeply humbled by the topless photo that was manipulated that she looked like her, that she suffered from major depressive disorder and after a co-worker told her about it, her blood pressure skyrocketed to such an extent that she had to be taken to the hospital on Christmas Eve, her attorney, Greg Smith, told the jury.
An LAPD decision on her complaint found that the image had been distributed in at least “four different locations at different times” and “presented to various officers as an image of Carranza.” An investigation revealed that it was not possible to determine who initiated the photo sharing.
But Mark Waterman, the city’s lead attorney, said no one shared the photo directly with Carranza and that only a small number of officials saw the picture, which is rumored to be her. She also has not been subjected to any harassing behavior in her work environment, Waterman said.
Moore admitted Thursday during testimony that he sent a department-wide message related to a “racist” 2021 Valentine-style meme mocking the 2020 killing of George Floyd that was shared by an LAPD official . But he said that was different from Carranza’s case.
“They’re not on the same scale,” Moore said, adding he fears the Valentine’s Day post could encourage public distrust of the police. “It took an answer to a whole world.”
But Carranza’s attorney said even after she sued the department over the incident, the boss didn’t publicly tell his officers it was fake or direct them not to share the picture. Moore said in Carranza’s case, the department’s efforts were focused on finding the “person responsible for shipping.”
Former deputy chief Debra McCarthy, who oversaw the LAPD investigation as head of the Professional Standards Bureau, testified that she supported Moore’s decision not to send a department-wide notification about the fake photo.
McCarthy, who retired in 2020, said Carranza contacted her after the investigation began and asked that she break the news to the entire department that she wasn’t. McCarthy said she discussed the request with Moore, but said she also fears any testimony from the chief could “make it happen” and jeopardize the investigation.
She said it was unclear how many officers saw the picture. Many denied it, and even those who admitted seeing the photo couldn’t remember how they got it.
Former Sgt. Stacey Gray, who led the LAPD investigation, testified that when she asked Carranza how she finally saw the picture, her attorney, who spoke to them on the phone, said, “She got it from me.”
Gray said there was an incident at what was then the Staples Center in 2018 where an officer showed the photo to colleagues. She said she estimated 10 to 13 officers had seen the picture, but she couldn’t say the exact number with certainty.
Carranza has said in court documents that she believes parts of her face were photoshopped into the nude image.
“I noticed that the facial features of the woman in the picture were strikingly similar to mine, even though the photo wasn’t actually of me,” she said in a statement. “In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion that my own eye appears to have been photoshopped into the image.”
Carranza said in the statement she felt “hurt, abandoned and belittled by my superiors … who took no steps to prevent known harm being done to me and who stood by and watched, encouraged or simply looked the other way while I was mocked.” . humiliated and degraded by LAPD colleagues despite my persistent pleas for help.”
It’s the latest in a series of derogatory incidents throughout her career, Carranza said. In November 2013, a then-detective teaching a training class was captured on audio saying she was “a very sweet little Hispanic lady” and that she had “been swapped out a few times.” The department, she said, knew about the recording but never told her about it until the officer who made the recording notified her.
The Carranza photo incident came months after the City Council approved a $1.8 million payout to an officer who accused an Internal Affairs lieutenant of sexual harassment and ordered her surveillance when she turned down his advances.
In 2020, the city paid $1.5 million to settle a lawsuit brought by a police officer who said she was assaulted, abused and blackmailed by a colleague and that department officials ignored her complaints. This officer pleaded no contest to assault of a spouse or girlfriend and was sentenced to three years probation.
https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2022-09-23/lapd-chief-admits-he-didnt-address-fake-nude-photo-of-captain LAPD chief admits he didn’t address fake nude photo of captain