Following a press conference held on April 4, 2023, by McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, numerous media outlets reported on our filing of governmental claims against the City of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Police Department and its leadership on behalf of 321 LAPD undercover officers whose personal information was negligently released and then posted on various websites.
View some of the media coverage below as well as our press release discussing the lawsuit.
- KNX News: Undercover officers file claims against city, LAPD over data release
- KTLA: Officer Data Leak
- Los Angeles Times: Hundreds of ‘undercover’ LAPD officers take step to sue city over release of photos
- NBC News: Officers Take Legal Action After LAPD Photo and ID Release
- U.S. News & World Report: Undercover Los Angeles Police File Claims in Photo Backlash
––Undercover LAPD officers’ names, photos and other personal information were negligently released to the public, putting undercover officers’ lives and their investigations at risk –
LOS ANGELES (April 4, 2023) – Trial law firm McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP, along with The Law Offices of Gregory W. Smith, LLP and Rains Lucia Stern St. Phalle & Silver, PC, filed governmental claims against the City of Los Angeles, and the Los Angeles Police Department and its leadership on behalf of 321 LAPD undercover officers whose personal information was negligently released and then posted on various websites.
“The City of Los Angeles’ reckless production of the undercover officers’ identities does irreparable damage to these individuals – their lives, careers and ongoing investigations are at risk,” said Matthew McNicholas, Partner at McNicholas & McNicholas, LLP. “The City of Los Angeles and LAPD have a duty of care to their employees and should have had appropriate safeguards in place to ensure nothing like this ever happened. They need to face responsibility for their catastrophic negligence.”
The City of Los Angeles was responding to two California Public Records Act requests that the LAPD had previously refused to comply with. In its response to the records requests of the full and current roster of LAPD sworn police officers, the City of Los Angeles ultimately incorrectly included undercover active-duty police officers and officers with prior undercover assignments. Information included name, photo, email, phone number, serial number, ethnicity, gender, rank and more. This data was then posted to the “Watch the Watchers” website, a searchable database created by Stop LAPD Spying Coalition. Chief Michel Moore stated he was unaware of the release, later issuing an apology and launched an investigation. It is believed that the commanding officer of constitutional policy and policing allowed the release to go forward without Moore’s knowledge.
Timeline / Background on CPRA Request
In October 2021, Ben Camacho, a freelance journalist, submitted a California Public Records Act (CPRA) request to the LAPD. The request sought the full current roster of LAPD officers, including each officer’s photograph, name, badge number, serial number, division, and sworn status. The LAPD did not comply.
In May 2022, Camacho sought a court order directing the LAPD to produce headshots of all officers. In September 2023, Deputy City Attorney Hasmik Badalian Collins signed a letter, settling the action with Camacho, by providing him with a roster of all active-duty LAPD officers and their photographs, except for any undercover officers. However, the letter did not define what undercover included, among other errors. Further, when the City of Los Angeles went to carry out the settlement, it incorrectly produced the complete roster of LAPD officers, including current undercover officers and officers with previous undercover assignments.
In December 2022, the Stop LAPD Spying Coalition (Stop LAPD) sent another public records request to the LAPD requesting a current roster of all LAPD officers with information, including names, serial numbers, ethnicities and ranks. The City of Los Angeles responded to Stop LAPD’s request by providing a full roster with the names, serial numbers, ethnicities, genders, areas, ranks and year of hire for all active-duty police officers, and wrongly included undercover officers and officers with previous undercover assignments. This was a second breach by the City of Los Angeles.
In March 2023, all information gathered by Camacho and Stop LAPD was published on watchthewatchers.net, a publicly available website.