With years of investigative research behind me, I thought I had heard every excuse in the book from Public Information Officers (known as PIO’s), trying to cover up misconduct by government officials.
This week, LASD Undersheriff Timothy Murakami had a hearing scheduled in the Superior Court of California on allegations of engaging in racism, intimidation and retaliation against an African American deputy, Tracy Stewart. As a court hearing regarding accusation of racism by the second in command at the L.A. County Sheriff’s Department is most certainly newsworthy, and wanting to give all sides a voice, I reached out to LASD PIO, Captain John Satterfield for a comment. I included the following questions:
This Wednesday May 12, 2021 Undersheriff Murakami is scheduled to appear before the Superior Court of California an allegation that he discriminated against, retaliated against, harassed black female deputies and refused to promote black members of the department. The complaint by Tracy Steward specifically states the following:
“2. When interviewing for the Operations Lieutenant position at Industry Sheriff’s Station,
Plaintiff interviewed with then-Captain, now Undersheriff, Timothy Murakami. Murakami refused to
make eye contact with Plaintiff and later denied her for the position, even though Plaintiff was the best
and most qualified candidate for the position. Murakami refused to hire Plaintiff as Operations
Lieutenant because of her race, African American.
- Later, Murakami admitted to his Operations Lieutenant Carlos Parga that he did not hire
Plaintiff solely based upon her race (African American), referring to Plaintiff with a racial epithet and
further informing Lieutenant Parga that he refused to hire or promote African Americans based solely
upon their race.
- Plaintiff was later denied promotions and transfers by Murakami solely based upon her
race, as there was no merit-based basis for Murakami’s intentional blocking of Plaintiff’s promotions
and transfers in Murakami’s present capacity as Undersheriff.”
Can you Answer the Following:
- Will Undersheriff Murakami be personally appearing at the Court House
- Does Sheriff Villanueva support Undersheriff Murakami’s retaliation against members of the black community?
- Is Sheriff Villanueva concerned that the LASD Undersheriff may be a racist?
- Is LASD concerned that other black deputies are going to file suit against the Department as a result of racial discrimination by Undersheriff Murikami?
- Has the LASD done an investigation into allegation of racial discrimination by Undersheriff Murakami? (if so, can you email the report)
- Has the LASD investigated multiple allegations of retaliation by Undersheriff Murikami?
- In the Parga Care the Complaint alleges that Chief Vera that Murikami would retaliate against Parga’s son. (was there an investigation at LASD regarding that allegation)
- Has the LASD responded to request for information from LA County OIG Max Huntsman regarding Undersheriff Murakami. (if so, what was given to OIG Huntsman, regarding Murakami)?
- Does the LASD have any statement as to why Undersheriff Murakami has not been put on administrative leave until investigation into racial discrimination have been thoroughly investigated.
- If allegations of racial discrimination come to light will Sheriff Villanueva put Undersheriff Murakami unpaid administrative leave.
Rather that answering my Questions I received the following response:
RE: Regarding Undersheriff Timothy Murakami Appearance in court on 05/12/2021 on allegations of Racial discrimination against Black Employees
From: Satterfield, John L <JLSatter@lasd.org>
cc: SIB Media24 <email@example.com>; Rodriguez, Lorena <firstname.lastname@example.org>; email@example.com
Good Afternoon Mr. London,
After reading your request, I must remind you the allegations made against Undersheriff Murakami are by persons who have current civil suits against the Department and stand to significantly benefit financially from those allegations. Unproven allegations are not facts. You are presenting these allegations as facts, and as a result the questions you authored are extremely biased and sensationalized. As you are aware, under advice of counsel the department is unable to comment on pending civil litigation, what can be said is Sheriff Alex Villanueva and his senior executives have promoted more persons of color and women than any other sheriff’s administration in the history of Los Angeles County. It is ironic you formulated questions so explicitly bias against Undersheriff Murakami during Asian Pacific Islander Heritage Month. The logical conclusion one can surmise from biased questions of this nature is a strong intention to author an article with a narrative designed to commit an unsubstantiated character assassination on a person who has dedicated over 40 years of honorable and faithful service to the community. I would ask you self-reflect on the motivation behind your inquiry and find the neutrality Edward R. Murrow once stood for.
John Satterfield, Ed.D, MPA
Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department
Sheriff’s Information Bureau
Hall of Justice – 1st Floor
211 W. Temple Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012
(213) 229-1670 Office
(323) 415-2934 Fax
“Do What Is Right and Just, No Matter What the Personal Cost”
Colonel Donald G. Cook, USMC (ret), Medal of Honor Recipient
CONFIDENTIALITY NOTICE: This communication with its contents may contain confidential and/or legally privileged information. It is solely for the use of the intended recipient(s). Unauthorized interception, review, use or disclosure is prohibited and may violate applicable laws including the Electronic Communications Privacy Act. If you are not the intended recipient, please contact the sender and destroy all copies of the communication.
Clearly Captain Satterfield was none too pleased about being asked these questions.
Currently Undersheriff Murakami is a defendant two lawsuits alleging Racism, Intimidation and Retaliation. The Appellate Court just upheld a $8.1 million dollar judgement against L.A. County that heavily involved Undersheriff Murakami, not to mention there is the high-profile Banditos Lawsuit still looming, alleging Undersheriff Murakami is a tattooed member of the LA County Sheriffs Deputy Clique, The Cavemen.
More importantly and most disturbing is how the head of communications is empowered to defend – and define – 40 years of “honorable” service by Undersheriff Murakami when there are a significant number of allegations, including those involving Sheriff Candidate Eli Vera, suggesting Undersheriff Murakami is a member of a deputy clique and basically a “street thug with a badge”.
Satterfield’s remarks are not only highly unprofessional, they exploit AAPI hate in a manner that excuses allegations of Racism against Black and Brown members of LASD. I can not imagine any member of the AAPI community excusing Racism by a member of the community. Satterfield remarks are crass and insensitive to the AAPI Community who have been experiencing hate crimes exponentially.
A simple “no comment” or “we are looking into this” from PIO Satterfield would have been the response from a seasoned and experience PIO with command of his craft. Instead, Captain Satterfield, the person in charge of communicating with the press, hoping effectively as to not facilitate even more bad press than the Department already naturally attracts, would have been trained/cautioned to count to ten before attacking a member of the press – in writing – accusing them of being racist for questioning allegations of racism.
Did I mention our publications are huge supporters of Sheriff Villanueva?
Unfortunately, (depending on who you talk to) that doesn’t carry much weight at the Hall of Justice.