Burbank Settles Civil Rights Case Against Police Department for $50,000

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Burbank’s City Council authorized a settlement in the amount of $50,000 to William McCall after he alleged he was the victim of a civil rights violation at the hand of Burbank Police on December 3, 2020.

According to court documents filed on May 26, 2021, on McCall’s behalf by the law firm of Baum Hedlund, Burbank police stopped McCall when he was walking down S. Beachwood St. near Parkside Ave. around 2:00 am, talking to a friend on a cell phone and “was simply minding his own business when he was accosted by Burbank Police Department Officers who proceeded to assault, batter, and falsely arrest Plaintiff.”

(Photo by© Ross A Benson)

The complaint went on to say that McCall was “apprehended Plaintiff by twisting his arm behind his back, smashing his face to the ground, and sitting on top of Plaintiff’s body.”

After his arrest, he was transported to St. Joseph’s Medical Center to treat an injury and then was taken to Burbank’s jail where he was eventually cited and released. McCall was issued a Notice to Appear at Burbank Superior Court on February 9, 2021, for arraignment on the alleged misdemeanor violation of Penal Code § 148. McCall and his attorney appeared at the courthouse on February 9, 2021, but were informed that no charges were filed against him. To date, the Burbank City Attorney has declined to file charges since.

Penal Code § 148 is defined as “Resisting Arrest and is a broadly defined criminal offense that makes it illegal to intentionally resist, delay or obstruct a law enforcement officer or emergency medical technician from performing his or her lawful duties.”

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Burbank Chamber

Pedram Esfandiary, an attorney for McCall said, “Unfortunately, we cannot comment on the details of the settlement or discussions with the City leading up to (the) resolution of the case. That said, we are pleased with this settlement. The BPDs tactics were contrary to established constitutional and California law, not to mention causing Mr. McCall significant distress. We hope that the City will implement much-needed structural change within the police department to prevent these kinds of abuses from reoccurring going forward.”

In answering the complaint filed, the City responded that they denied “any unlawful force, deny Plaintiff was “simply minding his own business when he was accosted by Burbank Police Department Officers,” and also “deny any assault, battery, or false arrest.”

City of Burbank’s Public Information Officer Simone McFarland said the following when asked for the City’s reaction to the settlement, “We currently have no comments on the settlement.”

When asked about the case, the Burbank Police Department’s Public Information Officer, Sergeant Brent Fekety said, “The Burbank Police Department is aware of the lawsuit involving Mr. William McCall and there was an internal investigation into the incident. As far as the outcome of the internal investigation and any actions taken because of the lawsuit, I do not have those details since it involves a personnel matter.” He also advised us to reach out to the City Attorney for further comment.

Burbank’s City Council met in closed session in October and approved the settlement that was signed by the parties in October and the settlement was finalized in court on November 29, 2021.

Ask why the settlement that was approved by Councilmembers in Closed Session was not reported by City Attorney Amy Albano during the reporting session of the meeting, the City said that it was not required by law.

(Photo by © Ross A Benson)

“The reportable event for pending litigation is the execution of a final settlement agreement.  This rarely, if ever, happens in closed sessions.  Typically, City Council approves settlement authority well before the parties reach (an) agreement.  Each party then negotiates the settlement agreement through their attorneys, which becomes reportable after execution of the final agreement pursuant to Government Code § 54957.1(a)(3)(B), i.e., the City discloses (the) substance of the final settlement agreement upon request.” according to McFarland.

According to McFarland’s statement, the public must request when financial settlements are reached, it is not announced by the City. She went on to say that the City had no comment on the settlement.

As part of the settlement, it was stipulated that neither the City nor officers involved, “have engaged in, or are now engaging in, any unlawful conduct”.