SDPD sergeant sues, claims whistleblower retaliation

Posted at 10:20 AM, Aug 29, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-29 21:26:52-04
SAN DIEGO -- A San Diego Police Sergeant is suing the city of San Diego claiming retaliation after he blew the whistle about what he considers dangerous and illegal conduct within the department. 
According to a complaint filed in San Diego Superior Court, Sergeant Danny Hollister wrote an e-mail to SDPD Chief Shelley Zimmerman on April 28, 2016 claiming police motorcades were dangerous, against department policy and illegal, per California Vehicle Code 21057, which states: 
Every police and traffic officer is hereby expressly prohibited from using a siren or driving at an illegal speed when serving as an escort of any vehicle, except when the escort or conveyance is furnished for the preservation of life.
"All he was saying is, we don't have the resources to do this right and he got punished for it," said Hollister's lawyer, Dan Gilleon.
Hollister also wrote in the e-mail that other departments around the state have banned police motorcades. "They don't like it specifically what he said because people are going to get hurt and they know the next person that gets killed will be an enormous lawsuit," said Gilleon.
According to the complaint, a few days after the e-mail, Hollister's immediate supervisor, Lieutenant Steven Shaw told him he was upset and threatened Hollister's career saying, "we are no longer on the same page" and "you are no longer part of the unified front."
Sgt. Hollister was removed from the Motor Unit, but later reinstated. The complaint alleges Lt. Shaw made derogatory comments to Hollister at the squad line-up, undermining Hollister's ability to work effectively with his co-workers. 
"They're being made examples of," said Attorney Dan Gilleon, who is representing Sgt. Hollister. "This is what happens to you when you speak out."
Red flags about motorcades have been raised before, and there have been some serious incidents involving them.
Earlier this year, for example, a California Highway Patrol officer tumbled across a freeway in Los Angeles while escorting President Obama's motorcade. The officer survived, but was injured in the crash, which was caught on video:
In 2014, there was a bad crash involving two San Diego police officers who were escorting the President of Slovakia when their motorcycles collided on the Silver Strand.
U.S. Motorcade Deaths (1902-2012) 
Courtesy Boston Globe/Associated Press
  • 1902 -- Secret Service agent struck and killed by trolley car in Lenox, Mass., while serving in President Theodore Roosevelt's detail
  • 1928 -- Police officer on motorcycle escort to presidential candidate was struck and killed in Kearny, N.J.
  • 1929 -- Virginia State Police officer dies about six weeks after a motorcycle crash while escorting President Calvin Coolidge
  • 1992 -- Palm Beach County Sheriff's deputy dies in motorcycle accident while escorting Sen. Paul Tsongas, a presidential candidate
  • 2006 -- Honolulu Police officer dies after his motorcycle slides on a rain-slicked roadway, where he was escorting President George W. Bush
  • 2007 -- Rio Rancho, N.M., police officer dies in motorcycle crash while escorting Bush's motorcade
  • 2008 -- A Dallas police officer slams into a guardrail and is killed while escorting then-Sen. Hilary Clinton's motorcade
  • 2012 -- Jupiter, Fla., police officer dies in crash while President Barack Obama travels to campaign rally