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Los Angeles Seeks to Shift Liability After Police Officers Claim Rampant Hazing on LAPD Football Team

— March 8, 2024

In recently-filed court documents, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office said that the municipality is not liable for abuse that rookie athletes were allegedly subjected to by the LAPD-affiliated Centurions amateur football team.

Los Angeles has filed an initial response to a hazing lawsuit filed by four police officers, each of whom claims to have been subjected to physical abuse and psychological torture after joining a department-affiliated football team more than 10 years ago.

In a court filing, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office asked that it be excused from the complaint, saying that—if the lawsuit’s claims are presumed valid—then the football team is solely liable for the officers’ alleged injuries.

The complaint, filed late last year, recalls varied incidents of physical, sexual, and psychological abuse against new athletes affiliated with the Los Angeles Police Department’s amateur football team, the Centurions. Although the plaintiff officers joined the team at different times, most of their charges relate to practices hosted at a Boyle Heights-area high school.

One of the victims, a police detective, said that he was sexually assaulted by a group of between 30 and 40 other Los Angeles Police Department officers during a rookie hazing ritual.

The detective, speaking to The L.A. Times, said that he kept the assault secret for decades, telling only a small handful of close friends and family members. But, years later, he had a chance encounter with one of the officers involved. He then reported the alleged perpetrator to the Los Angeles Police Commission’s inspector general office, as well as a follow-up email a month later.

A football. Image via Flickr/user:Joe H. ( (CCA-BY-2.0).

“I didn’t want to die with this on my conscience,” one officer said in an audio-only interview with NBC-Los Angeles. “As a police officer, why am I afraid to report what happened to me to the cops?”

However, the office did not respond to either the report or the follow-up message, with Inspector General Mark Smith saying that his staff have “not identified any email or other record of such contact.”

Together, though, the plaintiffs suggest that abuse was an “open secret” among the Los Angeles Police Department’s leadership, who tolerated intense hazing rituals for “many years.”

“Many senior members of the LAPD were Centurions, but never took any action to stop sexual assaults by LAPD Centurions against rookies before Claimant was sexually assaulted in 2009,” the lawsuit alleges. “Instead, LAPD supervision covered up this egregious conduct and, in fact, enabled it by using their positions of power and authority to permit this barbaric behavior to continue.”

Although lawyers for the four officers say that the Centurions program is intimately and inextricably linked with the Los Angeles Police Department, the city is now asking that all claims against it to be dismissed outright.

In its recent response to the complaint, the City Attorney’s Office said that any incidents of hazing allegedly committed by current or former law enforcement personnel did not occur “within the course and scope of their duties as employees.”


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