LOS ANGELES - The American Civil Liberties Union of Southern California, along with the law firms of Lackie & Dammeier LLP, and Bahan & Associates, today announced the filing of a lawsuit on behalf of City of Ontario police officers who were illegally videotaped while in the Ontario Police Department men's locker room.
The suit names the City of Ontario, the Chief of Police, and others as defendants.
"I think its safe to say that most Americans have a reasonable expectation of privacy while using a locker room," said Peter Eliasberg, managing attorney with the ACLU of Southern California. "Our clients did not agree to waive their Fourth Amendment rights when they became members of the Ontario Police Department and that is why we're filing suit today."
In approximately 1996, a police sergeant arranged for the installation of a hidden surveillance camera in the City of Ontario Police Department locker room at the direction of the Chief of Police. The camera was concealed in the ceiling of the locker room and provided a view of the door and the adjacent lockers and dressing area. The surveillance camera was connected to a video tape recorder located in a nearby office. The camera's installation was arranged by a sergeant within the Ontario Police Department.
The camera was only discovered when the Police Department began the process of moving to a new headquarters.
"In all the years we have represented police officers, this is the first time we've encountered hidden video surveillance of locker room activity and an extensive cover-up by top city management," said Michael Lackie, of Lackie & Dammeier LLP.
Approximately 125 persons have been identified on the one videotape that the plaintiffs have seen.
"The police officers here today are seeking accountability and the truth behind the illegal, covert videotaping of our men's locker room," said sergeant Steven Trujillo, an officer with the Ontario Police Department. "The officers standing before you are representative of those willing to stand up and defend our rights, even in the face of adversity and retaliation."