LAPD officers sue anti-police site that published alleged ‘bounty’ photos
Three LAPD officers have sued the owner of an anti-police site called killercop.com after their photos were published with an alleged “bounty” on them.
The lawsuit, filed Friday by the Los Angeles Police Protective League on behalf of Officers Adam Gross, Adrian Rodriguez and Douglas Panameno, demands that the photos and other identifying information be deleted from the website, the Los Angeles Times reported.
It is the first lawsuit resulting from the LAPD’s release of the names and photos of almost every sworn officer — more than 9,300 cops, including some who work undercover — as part of a public records request.
A police watchdog group posted the images online on March 17.
The release of the photos has roiled the LAPD. Some officers are considering retirement because of it, sources told the news outlet.
In a tweet mentioned in the suit, Steven Sutcliffe, who posts under the handle @KillerCop1984, wrote, “Remember, #Rewards are double all year for #detectives and #female cops.”
The tweet included an image of a monetary reward for killing an LAPD officer, the lawsuit says.
The suit also points to a later tweet that included a link to the database of officer photos, along with the caption, “Clean head-shots on these #LAPD officers. A to Z.”
Sutcliffe told the LA Times that the lawsuit was “malicious. It’s retaliatory. It is vindictive and frivolous. Their motion is filled with lies.”
He added: “They are trying to silence my free speech. The truth cannot be retaliatory. It is 1st Amendment protected speech.”
The information about the officers was turned over by LAPD officials in response to a public records request by the nonprofit newsroom Knock LA, then posted by Stop LAPD Spying Coalition.
The “Watch the Watchers” database includes each officer’s name, ethnicity, rank, date of hire, division/bureau and badge number, as well as a photo of the officer.
The LAPD said they mistakenly released photos of officers working in an undercover capacity.
Sources have said that the undercover officers whose identities were compromised in the release number in the dozens, if not hundreds.
Dozens of undercover officers are expected to bring a class-action lawsuit against the department, according to attorneys representing those officers.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the outlet that the department was investigating whether the “solicitation for violence against officers” was criminal in nature.
“The posts, the nature of the posts, they’re not just intimidation. They’re threatening, and they may constitute a crime,” he said. “This is one of those things that I worried about and feared when we released these photographs ostensibly to be transparent, that others were going to use them to threaten our officers.”
The plaintiffs in the lawsuit against Sutcliffe, who do not work undercover, claim that the alleged threats, combined with their photos being circulated online, have caused them emotional distress.
In 2003, Sutcliffe pleaded guilty in federal court to eight felony charges of using a website he had created to threaten executives at Global Crossing Ltd., a fiber-optic network company in Beverly Hills, from which he was twice fired.