Town of Medley settles lawsuit with former police officers

The Medley town council voted 5-0 on Monday night, May 6 to approve a resolution settling a wrongful-termination lawsuit filed against the town by two former police officers.

“Our names have been cleared,” said former Medley police Lt. Joe Olmedo, who was abruptly fired by the police chief last September along with Sgt. Jorge Perez and Officer Freddy Romero after being accused of a traffic-accident cover-up.

Last October, the Gazette reported that the three officers filed a lawsuit against Medley because the police chief fired them “without any power to do so under the town charter,” records show.

The officers asserted that only the town council had the authority to fire them and pointed to their collective-bargaining agreement.

About two weeks ago, Olmedo and Perez settled with the town, records show.  However, the agreement was not officially approved by the town council until May 6.

“The town of Medley approves, ratifies and adopts in full the settlement agreement and release signed by Perez, Olmedo and Jose M. Herrera on April 20 and 22, 2013,” shows the three-page resolution. 

Before calling roll, Councilwoman Griselia Digiacomo pointed out that the resolution had a date of April 1. 

“If the mayor would accept a friendly amendment that this is being adopted as of today’s date (May 6),” said Medley town attorney Michael Pizzi.  

As part of the agreement, Pizzi pointed out, Olmedo and Perez have agreed not to return to work in Medley.  

“They are agreeing that they will never, ever, ever again work as police officers for the city of Medley,” said Pizzi. “The town is not paying any attorney’s fees or damages and the officers are dropping all of their lawsuits and all of their claims against the town and agreeing to retire and go on their way.”

Pizzi said that there was no need for any “discussion.” He said all that was needed was a “motion and a second.”

“This is a great result after the dog-and-pony show we went through,” said Jose Hererra, who was referring to the 10 hours of testimony he went through over two days at town hall in January that resulted in a 5-0 vote by council to uphold Olmedo’s firing.

Hererra, who is the town attorney of neighboring Virginia Gardens, filed two lawsuits and mountains of motions on behalf of the officers. Aside from the wrongful termination lawsuit, another suit was filed for access to public records.

“The matter was settled amicably,” said Councilman Jack Morrow, referring to the town’s settlement with Olmedo and Perez. “They are leaving on good terms, and I wish them both a lot of luck.”

Romero had an arbitration hearing on April 24, and an opinion is forthcoming.

“With regard to Officer Romero, the town will not be entering into any form of a settlement negotiation,” Pizzi said.

Though he won’t be returning to work in Medley, Olmedo said he is brushing up his résumé to seek a position with another department.

Olmedo said he is “very happy” with the terms of the settlement, but he would not elaborate, citing a confidentiality clause.

“These fine officers now have great futures ahead of them,” Hererra said.