The trial involving former Burbank Police Deputy Chief William Taylor wrapped up Thursday afternoon, leaving in the hands of jurors his allegations that he was demoted and fired after raising concerns about internal discrimination and sexual harassment.
If jurors side with Taylor, they will be asked to decide if he should receive from about $1 million to $6 million in compensation.
Taylor, who is white, alleges he was demoted and eventually fired because he informed city officials and former Police Chief Tim Stehr about concerns of discrimination and sexual harassment, and because he pressed for an outside investigation into a burglary that allegedly took place in police headquarters.
Ten officers, including Taylor, were terminated in 2010, following investigations into how a 2007 robbery at Porto's Bakery was handled.
The city alleges Taylor obstructed the investigation and lied to investigators about his role in the management of the investigation.
Gregory Smith, Taylor's attorney, said in his closing argument in Los Angeles County Superior Court Thursday that the Police Department didn't support the hiring of minority officers and that at least two witnesses had backed his claims.
Following conversations with City Manager Mike Flad about a fear of being demoted for his concerns about discrimination, and after asserting that there was discrimination in the department, Taylor was indeed demoted, Smith argued.
Smith said that after Taylor discussed the matter with Flad in April 2009, he was demoted on May 4.
Taylor filed a claim with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing in June and another claim in August, Smith said.
Jurors should consider an abundance of indirect evidence in the case with the same weight they would consider direct evidence, Smith said.
“No one is going to say, ‘Yes, we discriminated against Bill Taylor,'” Smith said. “That would be crazy, especially in this case.”
Linda Savitt, one of the attorneys for the city, said in her closing argument that Taylor failed to lead the department.
To say the department was in turmoil and dysfunctional was a polite way of saying it was leaderless, Savitt said.
Stehr was reorganizing the department to gain better control, Savitt added, but Taylor complained about losing his title of deputy chief and had no concern for the department as a whole.
The jury was asked to award Taylor between $3 million and $5 million in pain and suffering damages and about $1 million for loss of earnings.
Taylor receives about $150,000 a year from his pension, said Savitt, adding that Taylor never sought mental help and doesn't deserve millions for alleged pain and suffering.
“Taylor doesn't deserve $1 million for failing to be a leader,” she said.