LAPD LAWSUIT: 'Men keep their jobs, women get fired'

LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Police Department's alleged "dirty laundry" is in the public eye once again with the filing of a new lawsuit by fired LAPD Cmdr. Nicole Mehringer.

"She helped to protect and serve all of us and now she is being tossed to the trash," Mehringer's defense attorney Brad Gage tells Eyewitness News.

The 22-year veteran of the LAPD was charged with public intoxication after an incident in Glendale in April of 2018. Mehringer was found passed out in a parked car with a subordinate of hers - LAPD Sgt. James Kelly.

"Fell asleep in the car," says Gage. "That's the worst thing she did that night and now she's been fired."

Mehringer was charged with public intoxication, and Kelly was charged with DUI. Both have pleaded not guilty. Mehringer was fired after LAPD Chief Michel Moore upheld a recommendation by the Board of Rights to terminate her in December. Kelly's Board of Rights hearing is scheduled for next month.

The crux of Mehringer's lawsuit is that she claims she's been treated more harshly than LAPD male counterparts, who've allegedly committed similar crimes or violations of department policy.

"Men keep their jobs. Women get fired," says Gage.

"In this case, there are male LAPD officers who have been accused or convicted of driving under the influence of alcohol - a much more serious crime than my client who was merely a passenger asleep in a car," says Gage. "We believe that is discriminatory treatment."

Mehringer's lawsuit outlines what might be called a "greatest hits" of alleged bad behavior by LAPD male officers.

LAPD Cmdr. Jeff Nolte is currently under investigation and assigned to home after he allegedly crashed his city-issued Dodge Charger on the freeway and then abandoned the vehicle in Carson last month.

Witnesses called 911 to report an erratic driver on the 405.

MORE: Questions surround erratic crash involving LAPD commander in Carson

"The front left tire was completely gone and they were still driving, so it was like the bottom of the vehicle was literally driving on the road - sparks flying everywhere," one caller reported to 911.

Nolte and his attorney have not responded to repeated requests for comment.

Eyewitness News asked the LAPD why the case was being handled by the LAPD given that it occurred outside of LAPD jurisdiction.

"We initiated an administrative investigation and so as not to duplicate work and seeing there were no other parties involved, our traffic detectives took over the investigation of any traffic violations," LAPD spokesperson Josh Rubenstein stated in an email.

And then there's former LAPD Assistant Chief Jorge Villegas who announced his sudden retirement in October after sources tell Eyewitness News he was allegedly caught by an LAPD surveillance team having sex in his police car with a female subordinate - as first reported by the L.A. Times.

Villegas has not responded to our requests for comment.

In January, allegations of "revenge porn" surfaced after Villegas' wife, a detective with the LAPD, accused LAPD Senior Lead Officer Danny Reedy of threatening to share sexually explicit photos of her. Reedy is also assigned to home duty. The Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office is conducting the investigation.

MORE: LAPD detective speaks out about her explicit photos being shared within department

As for Mehringer's firing? Gage demanded the disclosure of personnel files of as many as a dozen officers as part of Mehringer's Board of Rights hearing. The LAPD refused to comply, but this new lawsuit may force the department's hand.

Gage believes the allegations of misconduct involving male LAPD officers are far more egregious than what Mehringer did, yet her punishment was far more severe.

"What we are doing is suing for discrimination," says Gage. "What we are seeking are documents to help prove our claim."

Mehringer wants her job back. To her superiors, she says - see you in court.

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