Veteran police officer sues the city, two supervisors - Dallas News | myFOXdfw.com

Veteran police officer sues the city, two supervisors

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

A veteran Chicago police officer sued the city and two of her supervisors Tuesday.

The lawsuit paints an ugly picture of working inside the department's Office of News Affairs.

Officer Laura Kubiak has been with the department for 28 years. During the last fourteen, she has been in the Office of News Affairs.

She claims the office has recently become a dumping ground for officers who were found to have used excessive force on the streets, and that those officers brought their heavy handed tactics into the workplace.

The police department's Office of News Affairs, located at 35th Street and Michigan Avenue, is a branch of the Superintendent's office.

In a lawsuit filed Tuesday, Officer Laura Kubiak said she's worked under four superintendents, and has had no problems until now.

Her lawsuit claims that two officers who were found guilty of using excessive force were transferred to News Affairs, where one of them, Officer Veejay Zala, continued his violent ways.

She claims that after filing a draft report in November 2012, Officer Zala was "enraged."

The suit alleges that another officer in the division accosted her without provocation. When Kubiak reported the alleged assault to her supervisors, the other officer was not disciplined, while she was transferred to another, more dangerous position as a patrol officer, she claims.

In November 2012, Kubiak and a co-worker, also a News Affairs officer, were leaving after their shift ended when a third News Affairs officer -- one who had been sued at least three times for excessive use of force -- ran toward the two, the suit claims.

The officer was "enraged" by a report Kubiak had drafted for the media -- one of the primary duties of officers assigned to the Office of News Affairs.

"[The officer] ran up to Officer Kubiak, interfering with her ability to leave, and screamed at her, ‘Who the f--- do you think you are, you stupid b----?'" the suit stated. "[The officer] repeatedly shook his finger in Officer Kubiak's face and then swung his hand back as if to strike her."

Kubiak feared for her safety and backed away, jerking her head to the side, at which point the co-worker attempted to calm the officer yelling at Kubiak, the suit stated.

The officer continued to yell at Kubiak, adding "You are nothing, you are a stupid b----, you don't know how to be the police, I am the police, I am the real police," according to the suit.

Kubiak went back to her desk and called the director of News Affairs to tell her what had occurred. Kubiak told the director the officer who yelled at her "had similar outbursts in the past towards her," the suit stated. While Kubiak was on the phone, the officer who confronted her followed her back to her desk and "continued to berate and intimidate her," according to the suit.

The next day, Kubiak spoke to the News Affairs director again about what happened. The director said she "didn't have time" to discuss it with Kubiak and that those involved should discuss it at a later, unspecified time, the suit stated.

"Instead [the director] warned Officer Kubiak, ‘don't embarrass the Superintendent','" the suit stated.

Kubiak then requested at least two meetings with another lieutenant to discuss the incident, which the lieutenant never agreed to. At that point, Kubiak submitted a memorandum that led to an Internal Affairs investigation into the officer, the suit stated.

Despite the memorandum, the lieutenant assigned Kubiak to work with the officer two weeks after the incident occurred, the suit stated. Kubiak had previously told her supervisor "she did not feel safe working with [the officer]."

In mid-February 2013, the Internal Affairs Division told Kubiak her complaint against the officer had been sustained. The other co-worker with whom Kubiak was leaving at the time of the confrontation corroborated her complaint, the suit stated.

Less than two weeks later, Kubiak and the officer who corroborated her claims were both transferred out of News Affairs. Kubiak was sent to "one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago as a beat officer on the midnight shift," according to the suit.

"It's very concerning to her that this pattern of rewarding officers with this excessive force history, by bringing them in to the office of the superintendent, is sending them the message that is violent behavior. It's okay and that the city condones this behavior," Kubiak's attorney Megan O'Malley said.

Officer Kubiak's attorney said that Kubiak has now decided to leave the department sometime this year. Her timetable for retiring, the attorney told FOX 32, was accelerated due her treatment by her co-workers.

The Sun-Times Media Wire contributed to this report.

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