The Los Angeles Police Protective League union filed a lawsuit on behalf of three LAPD officers against an anti-cop website on Friday.
The lawsuit, filed on behalf of Officers Adam Gross, Adrian Rodriguez, and Douglas Panameno, alleges that the website, KillerCop.com, offered a bounty on police officers.
The officers demand that their photos and identifying information be removed from the website.
According to a report from the Los Angeles Times, “it is the first legal action stemming from the Los Angeles Police Department’s release of the names and photos of almost every sworn officer — more than 9,300 officers, including some who work undercover — as part of a public records request. A police watchdog group posted the images online last Friday.”
The website’s owner, Steven Sutcliffe, has posted about rewards being offered on Twitter.
The lawsuit also pointed to a tweet linking to a police officer database with the caption, “Clean head-shots on these #LAPD officers. A to Z.”
The “Watch the Watchers” database has officers’ names, ranks, ethnicity, hiring dates, divisions, badge numbers, and photos.
Sutcliffe told the Times that the lawsuit is “malicious. It’s retaliatory. It is vindictive and frivolous. Their motion is filled with lies.”
“They are trying to silence my free speech. The truth cannot be retaliatory. It is 1st Amendment protected speech,” Sutcliffe added.
LAPD Chief Michel Moore told the paper that the department is investigating if the “solicitation for violence against officers” was criminal.
“The posts, the nature of the posts, they’re not just intimidation. They’re threatening, and they may constitute a crime,” Moore said. “This is one of those things that I worried about and feared when we released these photographs ostensibly to be transparent, that others were going to use them to threaten our officers.”
When the photos and information were released, undercover officers were mistakenly included.
“We erred in the sense that there’s photographs that are in there that should not have been in there,” Moore said. “Now, but that ship has sailed. All those photographs are out here. What I find concerning is that as I feared … actors or individuals who are now taking this information and attempting to intimidate or scare and frighten.”
“It’s impacting us from a morale standpoint significantly, and from that, it’s very unfortunate,” he said.
Dozens of undercover officers are now considering a class action lawsuit. The Police Protective League is also considering filing a complaint against the LAPD and the city.
The New York Post reports that this is not the first time Sutcliffe has been in trouble for his internet activities.
“In 2003, Sutcliffe pleaded guilty in federal court to eight felony charges of using a website he had created to threaten executives at Global Crossing Ltd., a fiber-optic network company in Beverly Hills, from which he was twice fired.”