The lawyer of Cal City Police Chief Eric Hurtado issued a statement on the allegedly false allegations made about the former Chief and his placement on administrative leave.
The following is the statement from lawyer David Fleck:
On October 23, 2016, Chief Hurtado moved two surplus desks out of storage at the Cal City police station to make space available for first-aid equipment that had arrived. Just three days later, the City Manager placed Chief Hurtado on administrative leave. These now-infamous desks had been given to Cal City PD for free by the Barstow military surplus depot. Estimated value: $10.
The Chief intended for these desks to be used eventually by part-time investigators, whom the City was expected to hire within days, for the purpose of conducting background investigations of the owners and employees of incoming marijuana businesses. HR had already begun drafting the position description for these investigators. On the date of the move, the airport office that would be furnished for the new investigators was not yet available, but Chief Hurtado understood from the airport manager that the office would be available within about five days. Graciously, an occupant of a neighboring office, Fast Response, a security company, offered to store the desks for that short period, which immediately freed up the space at the station for first-aid supplies.
The Chief now stands accused of giving the surplus desks to Fast Response, and for this, he was placed on leave. These spurious allegations are false and slanderous.
The Chief never gave permission to Fast Response to use and keep the desks. Nobody at Fast Response ever believed the desks were given to their company. Prior to removing him from his position, nobody bothered to ask the Chief about his reason for moving the desks. Nobody inquired about the need for storage space at the station. Nobody asked Fast Response if they had any kind of agreement with the Chief to keep the desks. (There was no agreement.) Instead, the Cal City personnel made fake, false and fraudulent accusations that caused the DA’s Office to initiate a resource-wasting investigation.
To our knowledge, since Chief Hurtado was removed from his position, no further efforts have been made to hire background investigators for the imminent marijuana program.
On October 28, 2016, the approximate date on which the new office would have been available for the background investigators and the desks, investigators from the Kern County District Attorney’s Office (“DA Investigators”) served a search warrant and took custody of the two desks. That search warrant was based on fake facts that two influential Cal City officials fed to the DA Investigators.
The fake facts included:
- Lieutenant Frank Huizar AKA Frank Garcia (“Huizar/Garcia”) told the DA Investigators that Chief Hurtado’s brother owns a security business and wants to “acquire business” associated with the Mayor’s marijuana program. This is false. Chief Hurtado’s brother, Rick Hurtado, is out of work but does some occasional part-time work for Rick Jones, who owns a tow company and Fast Response. It is Mr. Jones’s business that offered to store the desks for a short period. Rick Hurtado does not own a security business.
- Huizar/Garcia said the two desks at the airport “were identical to the two missing desks.” At best, this is mere political spin. The desks were not missing. In fact, Huizar/Garcia himself told the investigators that he personally was present as Chief Hurtado moved the desks. The Chief did not hide anything about moving the desks and even introduced Huizar/Garcia to his brother, Rick, who was helping with the move.
- Former Fire Chief Jeff Armstrong (“Armstrong”) told the DA Investigators that the airport manager, Robert King (“King”), told him that he (King) had seen Chief Hurtado moving desks into the office at the airport. This is three levels of unreliable hearsay and categorically false. King subsequently provided a signed statement in which he declared he did not say anything of the sort to Armstrong and it was not possible for him to have seen the Chief moving the desks because he does not work on weekends. The desks were moved on a Sunday.
- In his statement to the DA Investigators, Huizar/Garcia stated that Armstrong said “some of his men” saw Chief Hurtado moving the desks. This is false. When the DA Investigators asked Armstrong directly, he did not recall any of his employees saying they say Chief Hurtado moving desks.
Chief Hurtado has an exemplary record of service to California City. He has worked for California City PD for 26 years, starting in 1991 as a police officer. He has been Chief for the last six years, during which time he has continued to be a “working chief,” meaning, in addition to his administrative duties, he has remained involved in active police duties. Even as Chief, he has performed CPR on average 3 times per year. Further, as Chief, he has logged over 3000 hours per year, which equates to almost 60 hours per week every week of the year.
Police Chief Eric Hurtado’s administrative leave has no basis in fact or reality, and we are ready to use every legal angle to fight for justice.