The Mercury spent several hours yesterday rooting through the case files from the discrimination suit filed by Sergeant Liani Reyna—the supervisor on scene at the Aaron Campbell shooting—against the police bureau's Special Emergency Response Team (SERT team).
Officers are asking whether Reyna didn't call SERT to the scene on January 29 because she may have had an ongoing mistrust of the team following her six-year legal case. Bureau spokeswoman Mary Wheat has since told the Mercury that Reyna has "used Sert in the past and has a good relationship with them." But that's not what Reyna told the court in 2005, according to trial transcripts shipped down from a Seattle warehouse this week.
"After my experience on the SERT Team, I have no respect for those guys," she wrote, in a summary of her SERT experiences submitted to the court before the trial. "The team's weakness came to light and overshadowed their strengths. They lack integrity, moral standards, tolerance for different ethnicities, gender, and sexual preferences. No man on that team stood up for what is right and what is just. They are all followers and they lack leadership. They are cowards and hide behind their unity."
"I am not like them," wrote Reyna. "I do have tactical savvy and excellent firearms skills, and I am in great physical condition. But I have integrity and morals. I did not demean myself to their level...the team's image must be cleaned up so that the bureau can respect and be proud of its tactical team."
Bitter, much? The same feelings were reflected in Reyna's court testimony, according to transcripts. Much more from the suit, including some remarkable details about "butt dipping" and so-called "bullshit sessions" after the jump.
From the trial transcript:
Attorney: How do you feel about the effect of this SERT investigation and what happened on the SERT team on your career?
Reyna: I think my career has been ruined. I don't foresee promotional opportunities as I originally viewed them.
Attorney: Why does this cause you to feel this way?
Reyna: Because I blew the whistle on top-ranking officials in this department. I blew the whistle on an entire SERT team who has connections throughout the department and these people are promoting up through the ranks as we speak.
Attorney: Do you feel—is the emotional distress resulting from your treatment on the SERT team and your—the internal investigations, is it all gone from your perspective today?
Reyna: No. I still have strong feelings about it.
Attorney: Do you see people from SERT in your daily work?
Attorney: Have you observed any differences in how they treat you?
Attorney: Can you give me some examples?
Reyna: Andy Shearer used to work with me at Northeast precinct, and he was very friendly. We used to say hello when we saw each other at work or in the hallways. Since this investigation, he can't even be civil to me. I make a point to be civil to these guys. If I see them—for example, I saw Andy at a range where I was working a range and he was leaving. I said hello, and he couldn't even respond.
Reyna: Stradley, I have to hear on the net because we share the same dispatch net. I don't like to hear his voice. I have run across him. I don't like to see him. I don't want anything to do with Mike Stradley and, unfortunately, I have a high productivity of activity. I find a lot of stolen cars, and there was an occasion where I found a stolen car, and Mike Stradley and his partner covered me on the high-risk stop. He ended up sitting in my car next to me, and I found myself very distracted by that because when I should have been focused on solely the suspect, I kept looking at Stradley and looking at the suspect. I wasn't comfortable with him there.
Psychiatrist Thomas Dodson told the court that he put Reyna on a 50mg dose of the anti-depressant Zoloft, after she came to him through the employee assistance program. He felt she was suffering from a single episode of major depressive disorder, including some suicidal thoughts, and subsequently upped her medication dosage to 100mg. Dodson felt that Reyna's experience on SERT was a "substantial factor in her depression," as well as a recent break-up, two years before. Reyna's former partner had left her for another police officer.
Reyna experienced light-headedness and dizziness at the SERT training on October 25, 2000, due to the medication increase.
"After my fainting episode, I was treated very badly," she wrote in a summary of her SERT experiences submitted to the court. "It was the perception of the SERT team, and now the Bureau that I had some sort of disability. The SERT team circulated a rumor that I had had a seizure. I was told that Sgt.Klick at SE dayshift told his entire rollcall that I had a seizure...After having the fainting episode, I was mysteriously restricted from deploying on callouts, even though the doctor released me to full duty, knowing that I was a SWAT team member."
"I had a lot of anxiety," she told the court. "I had trouble sleeping. I had a loss in appetite. I had just general body pains, what I described as joint pain that I associate with stress because I internalize my stress. I had tiredness, fatigue. I felt worn out. I had a loss of enjoyment in life. I wasn't happy. These experiences were extremely stressful on me. That stress caused me harm."
Reyna told the court that in order to get out from the depression, she eventually came up with a few ideas that worked.
"No.1, I boxed up a series of items that reminded me of SERT, like the clothing, put them away on a shelf," she said. "I took down some pictures that I had of SERT from my house, so I wouldn't have to look at them. And the biggest thing I did was I wrote a letter to [sergeant] Mel Tellinghusen, and I wrote down all my feelings in this letter about how he made me feel, how he failed me, how his job was to protect me, and he didn't do that. He was there to prevent this from happening, and he didn't do it."
Reyna later set that letter on fire, she said. "And then I wasn't depressed."
Discipline on the SERT team was ad-hoc and remarkable. From the trial, once again.
Reyna: Something about discipline came up, and they were talking about a form of discipline. I don't remember what got us on the conversation, but they were talking about butt dipping. Mike Lee described it as: Someone does something that is out of line, and they want to really, really get you—if they really want to discipline you, then they pin you down, and they get the sweatiest—I am going to quote him: The sweatiest, greasiest ass you can find and have him come over and sit on the person's face.
Attorney: What was your reaction when you heard that?
Reyna: I thought it was disgusting. I didn't want to get dipped. I didn't want to do anything to get me dipped.
Attorney: What did you think of the gift when you saw it?
Reyna: I think it is disgusting, and I don't want it. And I don't want it in my home. It was supposed to be prominently displayed in one's home, and I didn't want it.
Attorney: Bullshit sessions. What are those?
Reyna: Bullshit sessions are what are referred to as the small talk that occurs before the acutal training has begun. As I said, if we get on duty at 8:00 am., and we are standing around drinking coffee before we actually get on the range and start shooting, that's a bullshit session. If we are in between training, like for scenarios or for search warrant training, where we practice going into a house, and we're sitting around taking a break, that's a bullshit session.
Attorney: Did the bullshit sessions ever have a tendency to focus on sex?
Attorney: Would you say that the--how would you compare the amount of conversation related to sex with the amount of conversation related to other--training activities?
Reyna: More conversations on sex than on training.
Attorney: What kind of conversations about sex occurred in these bullshit sessions?
Reyna: The phrase 'two in the pink, one in the stink" came up several times. Conversations about sexual exploits outside training, at different training sites, just general talk about sex and references to anal sex and things of that nature.
Attorney: And the discussions about sexual exploits, what kind of discussions do you recall what about sexual exploits that occurred in these bullshit sessions?
Reyna: Gary Barbour was bragging about a training trip that he and Mike Stradley took down in Southern California, and they were bragging about how this group of people came to their motel room and in walked a single female, and they started having sex with this woman. Gary Barbour said, quote: She was sucking and fucking everyone in the room, and he was describing that—he said it with a big smile on his face, and he said at one point Mike Stradley stuck a dildo in her behind, and she didn't like it and that she waved him off.
That's when Stradley interjected that what was really gross was that two guys had actually shared a condom. That one guy used the condom, engaged in sex with this woman, took the condom off, handed it to his buddy and put it on and then engaged in sex with the woman. And Stradley thought that was gross, but that Barbour said that when they drove home, that they were kind of smiling at each other that they had done this.
Attorney: How did you feel about the conversation?
Reyna: In this particular incident I thought that they viewed women as a sex object and that they were bragging that this woman as sex object and that they were bragging that this woman was there just for their pleasure and that they're bonding, because they are having a shared experience with this woman. I think it is a disgusting. I think that having a pass-around with this woman is just disgusting. It is viewing women as a toy, as an object.
Attorney: Any other descriptions of sexual activities in these bullshit sessions that you recall?
Attorney: Tell me.
Reyna: Terry Kruger and Rick Hascall went down to San Diego. I believe they went to Camp Pendleton to do training, and they were talking about—someone had shown a photograph of a car that Rick and Terry drove down, and Rick crashed the car and had got it caught up in a chain link fence. They were laughing about this incident; that they wrecked this car, and it was a serious thing. So I asked: Well, what was Terry doing while Rick was crashing the car? Terry said that he was engaged in some sort of sexual activity with a woman; that Rick wanted to join in, but she didn't want him to be a part of it, so Rick kind of went off on his own and ended up crashing the car.
Attorney: And how often were these bullshit sessions?
Reyna: All the time during SERT training standing around and having them.
Attorney: Did you ever hear of the peanut in the butt race?
Reyna: Yes I did....it is pretty self explanatory. I can get the picture.
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