A high-ranking police captain in a lawsuit on Jan. 4 against the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and a city-affiliated gun store says he and his family suffered trauma during a search of his home.
LAPD Capt. Jonathan Tom, of the West LA Division, also alleges in the lawsuit, filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, that the February 2021 search of his home was racially motivated.
The search was part of an investigation into the theft of several firearms from a gun store located inside the Los Angeles Police Academy, according to Tom’s attorney, Bradley Gage.
The academy has served LAPD officers for more than 85 years as a training facility and retail firearms store.
According to his attorney, Tom filled out paperwork while purchasing firearms at the store, but the paperwork wasn’t completed properly.
“My client was tricked and defrauded because of this false paperwork,” Gage told The Epoch Times. “The police department knew of that, but they decided to go after him, and they did it with a number of armed police officers and assault rifles, raiding his house and terrifying his wife and 11-year-old son.”
Tom is seeking more than $5 million in damages, according to news reports.
Former gun store assistant manager Archi Duenas was charged in the theft two years ago with multiple counts of allegedly stealing and reselling more than 20 guns from the shop.
Duenas was accused of selling guns to officers for years at a discount and didn’t complete the required paperwork for each firearm. Tom was given a receipt for the gun he purchased, but Duenas reportedly took the money and failed to register the gun, Gage said.
During the theft investigation, LAPD officers searched the homes of four area law enforcement officers for weapons they believed might have been stolen, according to the police department. Firearms were confiscated at each house.
Officers removed several guns from Tom’s house, and have not returned all of them. Some were family heirlooms, Gage said.
The incident terrified Tom’s wife and their 11-year-old son, who were home at the time of the search, according to Gage. His wife, Yoomi Tom, joined him in the lawsuit.
“We want to try and help to restore his reputation, which is very hard to do,” Gage said. “We want to seek justice and fairness and proper compensation for the family for the trauma, grief and harm that they have been subjected to.”
A spokesman for LA City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office said they were reviewing Tom’s suit.
“Our office will review the complaint and [we] have no further comment at this time,” Feuer’s spokesman, Rob Wilcox, told The Epoch Times in an email.
Tom also claims he was singled out because he is Asian American, Gage said.
The lawsuit claims Tom was retaliated against after the Asian Police Officer’s Association denied a request by another police officer for help with a promotional exam. Tom was the association’s president at the time, Gage said.
Tom is also suing Capt. Lillian Carranza, commanding officer of LAPD’s Commercial Division, the department that spearheaded the investigation and search.
Carranza’s personal attorney, Gregory Smith, said she couldn’t speak publicly about the case.
“She can’t make a comment because there’s an internal affairs investigation going on and she’s been ordered not to speak about the case,” Smith said.
Tom is asking for a jury trial.
“I think it’s just as important that we protect police officers, when they are victims, from the police department just like it’s important that we protect other citizens from police abuse. … No one is above the law,” Gage said.
The Los Angeles Police Academy wasn’t immediately available for comment.