Malibu Man Alleges Anti-Semitic Behavior at Lost Hills Sheriff’s Station: Possible Antithesis of Mel Gibson Brouhaha?
• Lawsuit Notice Says Deputies Appeared to Mimic Nazi Salute and Affect Yiddish Accents
BY ANNE SOBLE
In what could turn out to be the antithesis of the Mel Gibson anti-Semitism brouhaha in the summer of 2007, a Malibu man alleges that he was the subject of anti-Semitic behavior by Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department deputies at the Lost Hills Station last week.
Ed Meyer said that he served the Los Angeles County Counsel’s office on March 23 with a notice of claim that he filed pro se, acting as his own counsel, “seeking $2,000,000 in damages from the defendants for deprivation of the plaintiff’s civil rights, and other tortuous behavior of the defendants.”
Meyer, a TV producer, was last in the news locally for having helped to identify an arcing power pole as a factor in the start of the 2007 Malibu Canyon wildfire. Although there has still not been any official determination of culpability, the utility pole is perceived as the starting point of the blaze that claimed a number of homes, businesses and a church, and damaged a school, as well as Meyer’s property.
This time, however, Meyer’s concerns about how he was treated when he went to the Lost Hills Station on a matter concerning his 15-year-old son are arcing. He told the Malibu Surfside News on Tuesday that the anti-Semitic behavior occurred at the public counter at Lost Hills after the juvenile was reportedly charged with being 20 minutes in violation of the 10 p.m. curfew in Calabasas.
Meyer’s civil rights violation allegations are based on his contention that there was “ongoing anti-Semitic behavior” by deputies at Lost Hills while he was trying to file a public complaint concerning what he describes as a member of the sheriff’s department’s inappropriate handling of the curfew violation.
As he sought information and complaint forms at the counter at Lost Hills, the five-year Malibu resident alleges that a uniformed 911 operator “used a slight hand motion” that Meyer “could only interpret to be [an] attempt to mimic the Nazi Sieg Heil,” the German salute that translates as “Hail, Victory.” The raised arm gesture is also known as the Hitlergrusse, or “Hitler greeting.”
Meyer also alleges that this 911 operator and a second operator, as well as the watch commander on duty, appeared to be affecting a Yiddish accent, saying “whatever” in a distorted way to all of his inquiries and comments.
He states in the notice of claim that when he subsequently returned to Lost Hills to pursue the complaint filing, “the same uniformed 911 operator continually screamed out [Meyer’s] last name, making such extreme emphasis in such a way [an ostensible Yiddish inflection], so that the other deputies would identify it as a Jewish last name.”
The complaint further alleges that “unknown to the deputies there was sufficient light behind the one-way glass, the plaintiff clearly observed the watch commander and the two operators carry on a comedy routine that crossed the line on anti-Semitism, all taking turns yelling ‘whatever’ with Jewish accentuation.”
The notice of claim asserts that when Meyer “complained about their behavior, the watch commander also made an inappropriate and threatening gesture and further statements toward him.”
Meyer says he does not practice Judaism, but indicates that he has a Jewish grandmother, as well as family members who are Roman Catholics and other faiths.
The Malibu Canyon area resident is also critical of the way deputies treated his son and has emailed the Lost Hills commanding officer, Capt. Tom Martin, seeking the identity of a man he calls an “imposter” but who may be a Los Angeles County Sheriff’s undercover deputy. Meyer has a dark and hazy cell phone photo of the man who, along with another sheriff’s deputy, reportedly arrested the boy.
Meyer alleges in the email to Martin that when he asked the Lost Hills watch commander for that individual’s name so he could file complaint paperwork, “he could not even name his name, so I know that was an outright lie on [his] part.”
Meyer says he needs to be able to identify the man “shown arresting my son, carrying my son’s property (book bag), and escorting him into the sheriff’s vehicle.” He told Martin, “I would like his identity, so as to subpoena him, file criminal charges of impersonation, and to file a civil summons and complaint against him.”
The Malibuite further alleges that the two deputies “used extremely foul language, including many four-letter words to my 15-year-old juvenile son, so I need the imposter’s identity to file a complaint and further notice of claim.” He also alleges a deputy “made criminal threats to my juvenile son, and I would like to press criminal charges against [the deputy].
Meyer indicated to Martin that if he “can’t identify the imposter, please so indicate, and I will send the photo to the FBI [offices] in Westwood for possible identification.”
Lost Hills CO Martin told The News that he has received both the email and the notice of cause and the matter “is currently under investigation.” He said the sheriff’s department has a formal procedure for addressing complaints and Meyer’s concerns “will be taken seriously.”
Regarding the curfew violation, which Meyer said is a misdemeanor, he noted that when he was late driving to a shopping center in the area to pick up the boy, he was unaware there is a 10 p.m. curfew.
He alleges the 15-year-old was verbally abused, handcuffed, and put into a sheriff’s black-and-white for transit to Los Hills for fingerprinting and booking.
Meyer said his son believed the officers, one of whom was in plain clothes and the other in an LASD T-shirt and jeans, were trying to accost, or possibly kidnap him, and he became frightened and did not want to give them his real name.
The senior Meyer added that when he started to complain about the actions of the arresting officers, he was told that he would also be charged with a misdemeanor.
“We live in a police state,” Meyer said. “But I don’t intend to let them do this…someone has to stand up and be counted.”
Although Meyer prepared and served the notice of claim as a plaintiff pro se, he said he is in the process of bringing formal legal counsel on board. He has indicated, “The case when filed will likely rise to the federal court system.”