Supreme Court Rules Against Houston Police Who Retaliated Illegally Against Whistleblower's Son - PINAC News
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Supreme Court Rules Against Houston Police Who Retaliated Illegally Against Whistleblower’s Son

After a nine year court fight, Houston taxpayers will be on the hook for their police retaliating against the son of a whistleblower, who’s still on their force today.

The United States Supreme Court affirmed this month that Houston’s Police Department retaliated against an officer after his whistleblowing father, who was also a Houston police officer and had filed a lawsuit alleging discrimination against Hispanics which was later dismissed, by denying to hear the city’s last appeal.

Now, Houston taxpayers will have to shell out $150,000 to Officer Christopher Zamora, who was demoted and suspended in 2008, after he was wrongfully accused of lying in an internal affairs investigation.

And as usual, taxpayers will also be stuck with legal fees, court costs and multiple trials that reached the Supreme Court in the department’s attempt to defend the indefeasible.

After all, Christopher Zamora had made secret recordings that confirmed his claims, probably one reason why the Supreme Court refused to even review the case.

That means last year’s 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling will stand, and they sided with a previous jury ruling in Zamora’s favor, for the second time.

But the City of Houston is still playing the victim, according to a statement from the prosecutor’s office:

““The United States Supreme Court denied the City of Houston’s petition for certiorari in the case styled City of Houston v. Christopher Zamora, No. 15-868, leaving the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in effect. In an opinion issued in August 2015, the 5th Circuit deferred to the jury’s findings, and held that the Houston Police Department’s multi-layer disciplinary review process did not afford adequate protection from retaliation against Sgt. Zamora in this instance. Now that the Supreme Court has denied review, the 5th Circuit’s opinion likely will make it much more challenging for employers-both public and private-to insulate themselves against liability in “cat’s paw” retaliation claims. In the discrimination context, the theory means that an employer-like the duped cat-can be liable; If the ultimate decision maker was “duped” by a biased supervisor who reports an employee for misconduct; and, the reports from the biased supervisor were untruthful. Nonetheless, the City of Houston and HPD remain committed to fair, equal and honest treatment of their employees and the citizens of Houston.”

But no specific city official put their name on the lengthy statement, because it might be a political death sentence for taxpayers in the largest city in Texas to know which public official holds their fiduciary duty to tax payers in such high contempt.

Ironically, the lawsuits might not have gone on this long, but Houston police doubled down on whatever ill behavior was occurring when they picked on the wrong officer Chris Zamora (who is still employed at the department), whose only crime was being a second generation officer, and his father Manuel Zamora being one of 24 members of Houston Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers that sued.

Manuel Zamora’s lawsuit was dismissed, but the city was never able to get Christopher Zamora’s lawsuit dismissed.

The wise administrators of the city of Houston, who have issued a statement blaming the victim, still thinks it’s all a ploy to get the city in trouble, and basically denies responsibility for its own actions. According to a local Fox News affiliate, this is the verbatim statement:

“The United States Supreme Court denied the City of Houston’s petition for certiorari in the case styled City of Houston v. Christopher Zamora, No. 15-868, leaving the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruling in effect.  In an opinion issued in August 2015, the 5th Circuit deferred to the jury’s findings, and held that the Houston Police Department’s multi-layer disciplinary review process did not afford adequate protection from retaliation against Sgt. Zamora in this instance.  Now that the Supreme Court has denied review, the 5th Circuit’s opinion likely will make it  much more challenging for employers-both public and private-to insulate themselves against liability in “cat’s paw” retaliation claims.  In the discrimination context, the theory means that an employer-like the duped cat-can be liable; If the ultimate decision maker was “duped” by a biased supervisor who reports an employee for misconduct; and, the reports from the biased supervisor were untruthful.  Nonetheless, the City of Houston and HPD remain committed to fair, equal and honest treatment of their employees and the citizens of Houston.”

But no specific city official put their name on the lengthy statement, because it might be a political death sentence for taxpayers in the largest city in Texas to know which public official holds their fiduciary duty to tax payers in such high contempt.

Ironically, the lawsuits might not have gone on this long, but Houston Police doubled down on whatever ill behavior was occurring when they picked on the wrong officer Chris Zamora (who is still employed at the department), whose only crime was being a 2nd generation officer and his father Manuel Zamora being one of 24 members of Houston Organization of Spanish Speaking Officers which originally sued.

Osso is spanish for bear, and the acronym of the Organization which functions as a small police union protecting the rights of minority officers.

According to the Houston Press:

Months after Chris’s father, Manuel Zamora, and 23 others filed their retaliation class-action suit in 2007, alleging that they were denied promotions based on their race, Manuel says that Chris immediately felt the backlash.  Manuel said Chris began facing daily harassment from his supervisors — one of whom was named in the lawsuit — and he was even removed from the department’s Crime Reduction Unit and placed on night-shift patrol. It prompted Chris (who could not comment because he is still working the night shift for HPD) to join his father’s lawsuit in September 2008 — which soon amounted to a ten-day suspension, according to court documents.

That’s because, even though the Internal Affairs Division investigated Chris’s harassment claims, it ended up concluding that Chris had lied to investigators during questioning, an event that became central to Chris’s case. As the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, which ultimately ruled in Chris’s favor, noted in its August 2015 filing, “That [suspension] determination was largely based on statements made by Zamora’s CRU supervisors that harshly attacked his credibility and baldly contradicted his factual assertions.”

The city of Houston’s vigorous legal defense of misconduct with taxpayer dollars stretched over a whopping nine year period, leading even Fox News – whose national news, and often local outlets are generally known as police-friendly – to write “Exposing HPD Code of Silence” on the cover photo of their story entitled, “Supreme Court: HPD retaliated against its own.”

As Houston’s newspaper of record reported:

“The court determined that there was a code of silence at the City of Houston in their police department for retaliating against officers, for reporting any kind of wrongdoing what so ever,” said Randall Kallinen, a civil rights attorney who participated in the case.

“A government that is willing to violate one of its own police officer’s rights is likely to violate the rights of its own citizens,” said plaintiff’s lawyer and District Attorney candidate Kim Ogg.

The next time a police department gets caught using an internal affairs unit to punish normal, law abiding police officers for speaking out against unlawful, or perceived unlawful behavior this tremendous loss by the Houston Police Department will sure to be the main precedent both sides debate.

And it proves that an entire police department and city aren’t above lying for a decade and defending it, just because they can.

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