Mel Gibson’s infamous drunk-driving incident in July 2006 not only soiled the actor’s reputation, it ruined the life of the deputy who arrested him, a lawsuit alleges.
Sheriff’s Deputy James Mee is suing the County of Los Angeles for alleged discrimination and harassment, saying he’s been singled out in a four-year investigation into who leaked a confidential arrest report to TMZ.com that detailed Gibson’s alleged anti-Semitic tirade.
Mee, who is asking for an undisclosed amount, claims he’s been subject to repeated disciplinary action and overlooked for promotions ever since he complained to his bosses that Gibson received preferential treatment from police.
“My client simply wants to be left alone to do his job at the sheriff’s department,” his lawyer Etan Z. Lorant tells PEOPLE.
Lorant denies that his client – whose home, bank accounts and computers have been searched – leaked the report. “He’s always wondering what they might do to punish him next,” adds Lorant.
Alleged Ties to Sheriff’s Department
Mee claims he was ordered by his superiors, Lt. Crystal Miranda and Sgt. Kevin Finch, to delete portions of his report shortly after Gibson was arrested “effectively participating in covering up the anti-Semitic posture of Mr. Gibson,” the lawsuit states. The actor allegedly called Mee a “[expletive] Jew” and said, “Jews are responsible for all the wars in the world,” among other invectives.
Gibson had close ties to the sheriff’s department, Mee alleges, and was a close friend of Sheriff Lee Baca and other top officials. The actor also lent his time and name to various law enforcement initiatives, the lawsuit adds.
The deputy also accused another superior, Sgt. Tracy Palmer, of having erased a portion of a videotape of Gibson’s being booked, and claims that Sgt. Finch was at one time a member of Gibson’s Malibu church.
“My client is being retaliated against because he is a Jewish deputy,” Lorant continues. “He was the most logical person for the police to investigate, but they didn’t look into any other deputies. They started with him and ended with him, even though other deputies had access to the report. They should’ve kept investigating.”
Ultimately, the case was “unresolved,” the lawsuit says, and no criminal charges were filed.
Denial of Wrongdoing
A sheriff’s spokesman denies there was ever a cover-up in the Gibson case, saying the department and internal affairs found no evidence of any wrongdoing.
“We categorically deny this lawsuit,” Sheriff’s spokesman Steve Whitmore tells PEOPLE. “This has nothing to do with ethnicity. What the sheriff’s department did was launch an investigation because someone was releasing confidential documents, which is a crime. We look forward to telling the whole story in this case.”
As for who leaked the police report, Whitmore stated, “I can’t speculate on who we believe did or did not release unauthorized documents.”