Abuse of power alleged in LAPD suit

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By Tris DeRoma

A countersuit filed in the United States District Court for the District of New Mexico against Los Alamos County by two employees of the Los Alamos Police Department has revealed possible abuses of power by two high ranking police officers within the LAPD.

The suit, filed Tuesday by Brian and Zina Schamber, contends that Lt. Scott Mills and Commander Randy Foster allegedly harassed Brian Schamber and tried to sabotage his law enforcement career in an attempt to eliminate him as a posible candidate to replace Police Chief Wayne Torpy, who was in poor health at the time.

Court documents state that Foster has been terminated from his job and Mills is on suspension following an internal affairs investigation into the allegations.

County administrator Harry Burgess said he could not comment on the case but he did say that Jamie Sullivan of the Brennan and Sullivan law firm in Santa Fe would talk about the case on the county’s behalf.

Santa Fe attorney John Day, representing the Schambers, said, “...Torpy was a big fan of Brian Schamber and we alleged that’s one of the issues here that generated all this. “‘Foster decided you know what? He’s in my way here, and there’s an easy way to take care of him.”

Chief Torpy, who has put the wheels in motion to retire this fall due to his health, has seen the lines of succession that he put in place the last few years crumble as events have unfolded in the months since he returned to duty earlier this year. The ensuing leadership vacuum in the upper echelons of the LAPD is so critical that county officials have called upon Philmont Taylor, who heads the county's Office of Emergency Management, to step in as acting chief.

The Schambers' suit alleges a laundry list of violations of civil and constitutional rights as well as state tort law. The various counts include unreasonable seizure, search of person, deprivation of liberty without due process, conspiracy to interfere with civil rights, false imprisonment, assault and battery, defamation, and negligent training and supervision.

More details on this story can be found in Thursday’s Los Alamos Monitor.