Advertisement

Petition seeks to decertify Undersheriff April Tardy for alleged dishonesty

LOS ANGELES, CA - JULY 1, 2022 - - LASD Chief April Tardy, from Central Patrol Division, leaves after answering questions at the end of the third public hearing in the Civilian Oversight Commission's investigation on deputy gangs at the Loyola Marymount University, Albert H. Girardi Advocacy Center in Los Angeles on July 1, 2022. The commission asked Chief Tardy to return to their next meeting due to time constraints cut her testimony short. Los Angeles County Sheriff Alex Villanueva was a no show even though he had been subpoenaed by the commission. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)
Then-Chief April Tardy, now undersheriff of Los Angeles County, answered questions in 2022 during a public hearing on deputy gangs as part of a Civilian Oversight Commission investigation. (Genaro Molina / Los Angeles Times)

A Los Angeles attorney filed a petition this week asking the state to “decertify” Undersheriff April Tardy for allegedly committing perjury when she testified in court last year as a witness in a civil lawsuit about a deputy gang known as the Executioners.

During sworn testimony to the Civilian Oversight Commission in 2022 — before she became the undersheriff — Tardy said she’d transferred a “shotcaller” in a deputy group after confirming he’d ordered a work slowdown at the Compton station.

She walked back those statements during a civil trial a year later, when she testified as a witness, denying gang activity at the Compton station and saying that there had never been a work slowdown.

In the petition sent to the state’s Commission on Peace Officer Standards and Training this week, attorney Alan Romero — who called on Tardy to testify in the 2023 civil lawsuit — said the inconsistent testimony showed such dishonesty that the state should permanently take away her peace officer certification.

“The hope is that the decertification petition — if granted — will preclude Undersheriff Tardy from ever working in law enforcement again, and will protect future victims of this type of cover-up and dishonesty under oath,” Romero told The Times on Wednesday. “It’s become clear that this department is incapable of regulating itself, so unfortunately we’ve had to look to outside agencies.”

Last year in court, Tardy chalked the apparent discrepancies up to poor word choice.

Read more: Undersheriff changes course, denies gang-led work slowdown at Compton station

“The information that I had regarding the work slowdown was all allegations,” she said during trial last year, speaking about her earlier testimony to the oversight commission. “When I testified, I just didn’t say the word ‘allegations.’”

On Wednesday, the undersheriff did not directly address the allegations but said in an emailed statement that she is “certain the truth will be revealed as the investigation moves forward.”

The Sheriff’s Department backed up its second-in-command.

“Out of respect for the process, the sheriff will refrain from commenting on the specific allegations of the petition while the administrative process runs its course,” the department said in the statement. “But he reiterates his confidence in the ability and character of Undersheriff Tardy.”

Fewer than three dozen Los Angeles sheriff’s deputies have had their certifications suspended or revoked by the state — in part because that wasn’t an option until recently. The 2021 law that first created a mechanism for the state to decertify police and deputies only took effect last year.

Most of the decertification actions that have occurred since then are still considered temporary and records show only a few have resulted in permanent revocations.

***

When Tardy was appointed undersheriff in late 2022, she made history as the first woman to serve in that role. At the time, Sean Kennedy, who chairs the Civilian Oversight Commission, lauded her selection. He said she was “one of the few [sheriff’s department] managers who actually complied with the COC’s subpoena to testify at an oversight committee hearing on deputy gangs.”

The hearing was one of several held as part of the commission’s lengthy investigation into violent deputy gangs that have plagued the Sheriff’s Department for five decades, controlling certain stations and floors of the jail. It was during that sworn testimony that Tardy was asked about suspected gang activity — including a gang-led work slowdown — at the Compton sheriff’s station.

Read more: New L.A. County undersheriff will be first woman to fill key position

In the months leading up to the alleged slowdown, Deputy Jaime Juarez had a coveted spot managing the training and vacation schedules for the station. In early 2019, he approached the acting station captain — Lt. Larry Waldie — with a list of other possible deputies he wanted to take over the scheduling position.

But, as he later testified in court, Waldie believed Juarez was a tattooed member of the deputy gang known as the Executioners, and Waldie wanted a new scheduling deputy who was not in the group. So he refused the request, instead giving the position to someone who did not have any gang tattoo.

Lt. Larry Waldie testifies about "deputy gangs" in 2022.
Lt. Larry Waldie testifies at the Sheriff Civilian Oversight Commission hearing investigating the Sheriff's Department's "deputy gangs" in 2022. (Jason Armond / Los Angeles Times)

In response, Waldie alleged afterward, Juarez retaliated by initiating a work slowdown at the Compton station.

During her testimony to the Civilian Oversight Commission in July 2022, Tardy — who’d been a chief at the time — said she had moved Juarez to a different station “because of the information that I had received about the work slowdown.”

She went on to testify that she’d confirmed Juarez had initiated the work slowdown in response to Waldie’s refusal to pick the scheduling deputy Juarez wanted, and that she had transferred Juarez afterward.

Four months after testifying to the oversight commission, Tardy was deposed in a lawsuit Waldie filed claiming he’d been denied a promotion to station captain in retaliation for opposing the so-called Executioners.

She said then that she had not confirmed a work slowdown and was “unsure” what she meant before when she said she had. When she testified at trial in 2023, she reiterated that and said she had only transferred Juarez to another assignment, not to another station.

“Did you hear yourself say that you confirmed the work slowdown had taken place? You used the word ‘confirmed,’” Romero asked her, after playing her earlier testimony.

“Yes, I heard that,” Tardy replied.

Romero continued: “What did you do to confirm that that had taken place?”

“It had not been confirmed,” Tardy said. “The allegation had not been confirmed.”

Though Waldie lost his lawsuit in June, this month Romero sent a 483-page petition to POST, outlining his concerns about Tardy’s testimony. According to an email Romero shared with The Times, the commission confirmed receipt on Wednesday and forwarded the complaint to the Sheriff’s Department.

Once the department finishes investigating, the email said, the commission will conduct its own review — if the allegations are considered grounds for decertification. That can include everything from physical abuse or sexual assault to participation in a law enforcement gang, abuse of power or dishonesty.

Sign up for Essential California for news, features and recommendations from the L.A. Times and beyond in your inbox six days a week.

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.