The lawsuit suggests that Pasadena police Officer Taisyn Crutchfield may be facing disciplinary action for simply trying to de-escalate a confrontation between her colleagues and the sons of a Black man who had just been shot and killed by Los Angeles County sheriff’s deputies.
A Pasadena police officer is preparing to file a lawsuit against the California city, claiming that she was subjected to racial discrimination and attempted retaliation after trying to de-escalate a confrontation between another officer and the father of a man fatally shot by sheriff’s deputies.
According to The Pasadena Star-News, the claim—a necessary precursor to a civil rights lawsuit—alleges whistleblower retaliation, discrimination, harassment, and failure to take corrective action.
The Star-News notes that the claimant, Pasadena police Officer Taisyn Crutchfield, was placed on administrative leave over her role in their confrontation. She was eventually returned to active duty, but was never informed of the findings of an internal investigation into the incident.
Nevertheless, Crutchfield was told that she should expect to face some sort of disciplinary action.
“The Pasadena Police Department (PDP) has a history of racial discrimination, racial profiling, disparities of punishment of African-American employees and retaliation against that officer [sic] who are whistleblowers or complaint about discrimination, harassment, and retaliation,” attorneys for Crutchfield said in a press release. “Crutchfield is the latest victim.”
The claim indicates that Crutchfield was punished for attempting to de-escalate a confrontation involving Pasadena police officers and the two sons of Charles Towns, a Black man who was shot and killed by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies in January.
Bradley Gage, an attorney representing Crutchfield in the claim, said that police were called to the scene when one of Towns’s underage sons, a juvenile, was “understandably upset by the death of their father.”
As responding officers were speaking to the teenagers, one of them was purportedly “thrown face-first into a cactus,” escalating the situation and prompting Crutchfield to attempt an intervention by pushing one of her colleagues aside.
“Officer Taisyn Crutchfield fortunately followed state-wide police training and intervened to de-escalate the situation,” the press release says. “Officer Crutchfield deserved a commendation for her swift and heroic action, avoiding needless violence.”
“Instead, she was relieved of duty and punished,” it adds. “Our lawsuit is about righting the wrong that Officer Crutchfield has suffered from.”
Crutchfield’s attorney, Bradley Gage, recently hosted a press conference announcing the claim. In it, he emphasized that Crutchfield cannot speak publicly on the investigation or the impending claim.
“It would open her up to more retaliation,” Gage said, qualifying that Crutchfield wants to ensure integrity in policing.
“She’s doing the right thing, she doesn’t believe in a code of silence,” Gage said. “She doesn’t believe in circling the wagons.”
“She believes in integrity, honesty, and safety,” Gage added.
While Crutchfield herself did not speak at the conference, her father—Tony Crutchfield—was present, telling reporters that his daughter had joined the Pasadena Police Department to bridge the gap between the community and its law enforcement officers.
“She is also a Black American,” Crutchfield said. “Sadly, her race has eclipsed her achievements, subjecting her to discrimination and retaliation at the Pasadena Police Department.”
[the Pasadena Star-News notes that the city’s current police chief, Gene Harris, is also Black]
The has not yet offered comment on the claim, but said that it values both diversity and integrity.
“The Pasadena Police Department proudly serves the residents of Pasadena with honor and integrity, and is proud of its diversity throughout all ranks of the Department,” the city said in a statement.