Officer claims LAPD failed to protect her after alleged AirTag monitoring by assistant chief

BEVERLY HILLS, CA - October 17: LAPD assistant chief Al Labrada, right, held a news conference with his lawyer Jeremy Tissot regarding allegations of him stalking a lower-ranking officer he was romantically involved with. Photographed at Tissot Law Firm on Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2023 in Beverly Hills, CA. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)
Former LAPD assistant chief Al Labrada, right, held a news conference in October with his lawyer Jeremy Tissot regarding allegations of him tracking a lower-ranking officer he was romantically involved with. (Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

A female LAPD officer who accused former assistant chief Alfred "Al" Labrada of unlawfully tracking her has filed a legal claim alleging department leadership failed to shield her from backlash, both inside the department and on social media.

The officer, Dawn Silva, said in a government claim filed Tuesday that her decision to report Labrada unleashed a torrent of abuse from his defenders, who she claims have continued to contact her privately since an Oct. 7 press conference in which Labrada publicly dismissed the allegations.

Silva, a senior officer with the department's training division, said in the claim that she went on medical leave on Sept. 18 "[d]ue to the significant pressure and anxiety that [she] was facing from the persistent rumors."

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Silva's claim says she has been "harassed and discriminated against based on her sex and gender and has been retaliated against" for reporting the alleged misconduct.

Some of the harassment has come from fellow LAPD officers, the claim says, noting that some comments were received from LAPD-adjacent accounts on Instagram. One such account, called @defendthelapd, posted a story characterizing Labrada as a "sacrificial lamb," while accusing the officer who filed the police report against him of "lying and pulling a #metoo...because she's scorned."

After news of the allegations broke, Labrada was demoted to the rank of commander and has been sent to a disciplinary panel, where he faces possible termination. He has been on leave since early October.

Silva said Labrada has "continuously and on an ongoing basis" emailed and texted her, "despite assurances" from the department that the he had been given two "stay away" orders. Such orders are an administrative tool regularly used to separate department employees who are involved in interpersonal or romantic disputes; repeated violations can result in an officer's termination.

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In a statement Tuesday, Labrada’s attorney, Jeremy Tissot, said he had not yet reviewed the claim, but he stood by his comments at a news conference in October where he defended his client. Tissot pointed out that prosecutors in San Bernardino County declined to file any charges against Labrada.

"Mr. Labrada has never engaged in any stalking, harassment, abuse or other illegal actions, in my opinion," Tissot wrote in a statement.

At the news conference in October, Labrada said the case had caused him "significant emotional and physical distress." He accused department leadership — singling out Chief Michel Moore on several occasions — for making details about the case public that he said should have been protected by state privacy laws. Labrada argued that he was being treated differently from other department officials facing allegations of misconduct, echoing a double standard argument made in several other recent lawsuits against the LAPD.

Tissot also scolded news outlets for their repeated characterization of the allegations against Labrada as "stalking," a label that he said carries a dark connotation. Tissot said the allegations against Labrada do not meet the state's legal definition of stalking. The attorney added that he was limited in what he could say because of the department's pending disciplinary case against his client.

An LAPD spokeswoman declined to comment on Tuesday, saying the department generally doesn't discuss ongoing litigation.

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Silva's attorney, Matthew McNicholas, accused the department Tuesday of mishandling the case against his client.

"It's entirely inappropriate for an assistant chief in LAPD to place what is in effect an electronic dog collar on a simple police officer that he was in a romantic relationship with," said McNicholas, adding that Silva began receiving text messages from colleagues shortly after she reported Labrada to internal affairs. "How does that happen? She didn't tell anybody else in the department. Her mother didn't tell anyone else in the department. So it is her belief, it is our belief that it was leaked."

Silva said she discovered a tracking device called an AirTag on Sept. 3 during a getaway with friends at a hotel in Palm Springs, when he emailed her a copy of their domestic partnership separation agreement, according to the police report. The timing of the message made her suspect that Labrada knew her whereabouts, and she then asked a friend to help her inspect her car, according to the report.

The search turned up an AirTag in a black Pelican case that was attached to the undercarriage, behind the rear passenger wheel, her claim said. A friend of hers "scanned" the device, which revealed that it was registered to Labrada's city-owned cellphone, according to her claim.

Several investigators from internal affairs showed up at her home to interview her the day after she filed a report with Ontario police, she said. But, when they rechecked the AirTag, Labrada's information had been wiped, leading Silva to believe that someone had tipped him off.

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She said her relationship with Labrada dates back to October 2017, when he was a captain in Hollenbeck Division. in May 2021, they filed paperwork to become domestic partners. Silva maintains that she ended their relationship last July "due to its continually toxic nature."

Silva was granted a temporary restraining order against Labrada on Nov. 16; in her application for the order, she described the emotional anguish that the ongoing abuse had caused her and said she feared for her safety. She also detailed Labrada's ongoing efforts to contact her, including through friends and family members, according to the document.

Times staff writer Richard Winton contributed to this report.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.