OPD sergeant files claim alleging retaliation by city

- Oakland police Sgt. Mike Gantt displayed his department awards and medals at a news conference Tuesday and said this is what he's all about - cracking cases and solving homicides, and not staying home while on leave.

"I'm just tired of being made out to be the scapegoat," Gantt said.

It all began with the shooting death of a woman named Irma Huerta Lopez in June 2014.

 She was the wife of Oakland police officer Brendan O'Brien. Gantt said he didn't believe that she shot herself with the officer's off-duty gun at the couple's East Oakland apartment -- and suspected the officer had killed her.

"The responses I was getting from Officer O'Brien basically weren't jiving," Gantt said.

The night Lopez died, O'Brien said he walked barefoot - without his gun - to a store to get cigarettes and that when he returned, his wife was dead.

Gantt says the officer doesn't smoke. There was gunshot residue on both O'Brien and his wife's hands, and two gunshots were fired.

But Gantt says his boss at the time, now-Deputy Chief John Lois, yanked him off the case.

Then, 15 months later, Officer O'Brien shot and killed himself. The Alameda County coroner and the district attorney's office ruled both the deaths of O'Brien and his wife as suicides.

O'Brien left behind a note that  sparked the investigation that has led to the Bay Area-wide police sex scandal involving self-described sex worker, Jasmine Abuslin, formerly known as Celeste Guap.

Now, Gantt, a 28-year veteran says he's still paying the price for his beliefs.

"The thin blue line is alive and well, you know? And once you step over that line, you become an outcast. Obviously, I stepped over the line because they haven't brought me back to work."

He says he was forced to transfer out of homicide because of harassment.

Gantt says the city has refused to close an investigation into a domestic dispute involving him and his wife.

He says the city smeared him by accusing him of improperly having a friend transcribe interviews in homicide cases. The DA cleared him of any criminal wrongdoing.

And in yet another case, Gantt says the city wants to suspend him in connection with a racist text investigation. Gantt says he was the whistleblower who accused a black commander of sending those texts.

"With the pressure of the revelations regarding the sexual abuse scandal, Sergeant Gantt became a convenient whipping boy," said Gantt's attorney Dan Siegel.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Mayor Libby Schaaf said, "We expect that some officers will exercise their right to challenge discipline actions. There is a clearly defined legal process for handling these claims and we welcome the opportunity to present the full set of facts."

 

 

 

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