OAKLAND, Calif. - Former Oakland Police Chief LeRonne Armstrong has lodged a legal claim against the City of Oakland, alleging that his firing was an act of retaliation by Mayor Sheng Thao and other city officials.
The claim, filed on July 17 as first reported by the Oaklandside, marks the initial step by Armstrong to sue the city and seek monetary damages.
Under California law, people seeking monetary damages from a government entity must first submit a legal claim, which sets up the possibility that the governmental entity can settle the dispute out of court.
If the entity wants to fight the claim, then the person who filed the legal claim can sue and the matter is handled in the courts.
Armstrong claims that Thao ousted him from his role in February after he criticized the Oakland Police Department's federal monitor, Robert Warshaw.
"The Mayor's decision to terminate Chief Armstrong boiled down to retaliation for Armstrong's statutorily and First Amendment protected criticisms of Monitor Warsaw," the claim states. "In his letter to the Mayor, Chief Armstrong laid out in detail why the Monitor’s reports concluding he had violated policies were completely devoid of merit and were clearly contradicted by the Monitor’s own factual conclusions as well as the Chief’s underlying audio-recorded interview statements."
The legal claim also notes that Armstrong alleges retaliation from former city administrator Edward Reiskin.
Though Armstrong refrains from specifying a specific monetary sum in his claim, he cites lost past and potential earnings since his removal, coupled with damages for mental anguish.
The Oakland City Attorney's Office declined to provide a comment regarding the legal claim.
Thao's decision to relieve Armstrong of his responsibilities followed an independent probe by the federal monitor, revealing systemic shortcomings in the department's management of internal affairs investigations. The report faulted Armstrong for his failure to discipline one of his sergeants who was at the center of two separate misconduct investigations.
Armstrong has repeatedly denied the findings, characterizing the report as sensationalized.
In a bid to challenge his termination, he formally appealed the decision in late February.
Thao justified Armstrong's dismissal based on his response to the outside investigation and his repeated denial of any wrongdoing. The mayor also said there were deep problems and coverups in the department under his watch.
KTVU obtained a copy of the legal claim via a public records request. Read the legal claim here: