L.A. Times Takes Legal Action Over Official’s Intoxication During Palisades Fire

A Court Petition States That the Department Did Not Discipline Those Involved

By Zach Armstrong

City News Service is reporting that legal action from the Los Angeles Times claims the City wrongfully withheld information from the newspaper which tried to obtain information regarding misconduct on the day LAFD battled a Pacific Palisades fire.

The legal case involves the story of retired LAFD chief deputy of administrative operations Fred Mathis. The former official allegedly arrived to work drunk in May 2021 while leading the LAFD operations center. On the same day, firefighters faced a Palisades fire that threatened lives and property. While LAFD reportedly admits Mathis’ impairment that day, it contends that it shouldn’t be mandated to release records since he was placed on sick leave in the days following the incident. It also maintains that he has a right to privacy in relation to his intoxication due to a history of substance abuse.

A court petition states that the department did not discipline those involved or allow them to resign in light of L.A. Times reporting showing sexual and other forms of misconduct. reportedly references the California Public Records Act by requesting a judge order the release of non-exempt documents. 

City News Service quoted court papers as saying “The city argues that this privacy interest trumps the public interest … even though the public has a profound interest in learning how and why the city did not discipline Mathis and let him retire four days after the conclusion of its investigation with a $1.4 million payout and $225,000 in annual pension payments,”

in Hard, News
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