A top LAPD official, Al Labrada, was placed on administrative leave Tuesday after allegations of harassment, Chief Michel Moore said.
Moore announced the decision at Tuesday’s meeting of the department’s watchdog, the Board of Police Commissioners.
Labrada, one of three deputy chiefs who report to Moore, was the subject of an Ontario police report alleging that he used an Apple AirTag to track the movements of an LAPD officer with whom he was in a romantic relationship, according to police sources, who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to publicly discuss the ongoing investigation.
The officer who filed the complaint against Labrada alleged she discovered an AirTag — a small tracking device that can be attached to personal items — among her belongings, the sources said. After department officials learned of the allegations, they launched an internal investigation and confiscated the phone issued by the city of Labrada, sources said.
Moore told the commission Tuesday that he was limited in what he could say on the personnel issue, but that he took the allegations “very seriously.”
“We will continue to cooperate with the outside agency as they continue their investigation, as well as conduct our internal investigation,” Moore said. “There will be consequences if these allegations prove true.”
Commission Chairman Erroll Southers said he had directed the inspector general’s office to monitor the LAPD investigation “so that we can ensure objectivity and impartiality going forward.”
Labrada has repeatedly denied the allegations against him and indicated he was considering legal action.
“From our understanding, what happened today was standard procedure and nothing else should be added to it except that the matter continues to be investigated “said his civil lawyer, Jeremy Tissot, in a statement. “We would like to clarify together that, in our opinion, what has been reported in the media so far is false regarding the harassment allegations. The relationship and circumstances have also been misinterpreted.
In the statement, Tissot said that “we hope that these allegations will be fully vindicated, and it is considering all potential legal remedies by and through my office, against the responsible parties in connection with these false and defamatory.”
Labrada also hired Andrew Leventhal for the possible criminal case.
The police report “distorts the nature of everything and that is regrettable. He’s a really good man, he works hard, he loves his children, he loves his mother,” Leventhal said, saying he had advised Labrada not to speak to Ontario police at this time. . “There is no harassment, it’s just a completely misinterpretation. It’s wrong.
After The Times inquired about the Ontario police report last week, the LAPD confirmed it was conducting its own internal investigation into the matter and said Labrada would continue in his position.
Then, in an email sent Monday to all department staff, Labrada said he would take a week-long “absence from command.” According to the email, which was reviewed by The Times, Deputy Chief David Kowalski will assume leadership of the Bureau of Special Operations — which oversees most of the department’s specialized units, including the major crimes, gang and narcotics, as well as air support – in Labrada’s absence.
The move to administrative leave marks a dramatic turnaround for Labrada, seen by some as a potential internal candidate to replace Moore, who has said he will not serve his second second-year term as chief, according to multiple sources who requested anonymity. discuss internal departmental affairs.
Labrada was also the highest-ranking Latino in a department where more than half of the officers identify as Latino.
The 30-year LAPD veteran is a member of the Latin American Law Enforcement Assn., which advocates on behalf of Latino officers. His name was noticeably absent from the group’s presentation Tuesday to the police commission.
Labrada is not the first senior LAPD official in recent history to abruptly leave his post amid allegations of misconduct.
In 2018, another deputy chief, Jorge Villegas, abruptly retired after sources told the Times he had an inappropriate sexual relationship with a female subordinate. An LAPD surveillance unit captured Villegas and his subordinate apparently engaging in a sex act in a parking lot, the sources said.
Villegas’ case resurfaced this year in a court filing by a former LAPD commander who is suing the department for retaliation.
Apple AirTags, which measure the size of a quarter and cost about $29, were introduced in 2021 to help people track and recover their lost personal items, allowing users to be notified when a device is missing. proximity. They have sparked concern among advocates for domestic violence victims, who have warned that they could be used to surveil someone without their consent.
Allegations that LAPD officers misused the devices also surfaced recently in an investigation into a Valley-area gang unit that the FBI is investigating for potential civil rights violations.