LAPD officer who alleged harassment by Garcetti consultant gets $1.8 million

BEVERLY HILLS, CA – JULY 14: Executive Vice Mayor and Deputy Chief of Staff to Mayor Eric Garcetti Rick Jacobs delivers a speech at the annual Bastille Day Reception at La Residence de France on July 14, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Tasia Wells/Getty Images)
(tasia wells/getty images)

LAPD officer who alleged harassment by Garcetti consultant gets $1.8 million

LA politics

Dakota Smith
Richard Winton

November 8, 2023

The Los Angeles City Council agreed Wednesday to pay $1.8 million to settle a lawsuit filed by a Los Angeles police officer who said he was sexually harassed by a high-ranking aide to former Mayor Eric Garcetti.

The council has voted

to 13 to 0 13-0

to settle the 2020 lawsuit filed by LAPD Officer Matthew Garza, who worked in Garcetti’s security department and alleged that Rick Jacobs inappropriately hugged and touched him and made crude sexual comments over a period of several years.

The allegations gained national attention, launched an independent investigation by a U.S. senator and dogged Garcetti as he sought to become President Biden’s ambassador to India.

Jacobs acknowledged in his statement that he may have made sexual jokes in the presence of the security service, but denied harassing anyone.

The city tried to smear Officer Garza when he spoke truth to power, said Greg Smith, Garza’s attorney. I applaud the City Council’s 13-0 vote, which affirms the merits of this cause. Enabling predators is not leadership that Los Angeles residents deserved better.

An attorney for Jacobs, who helped raise money for Garcetti’s 2013 mayoral campaign and helped guide his political career, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Garza’s lawsuit alleged that Garcetti and his wife, Amy Wakeland, witnessed Jacobs’ inappropriate behavior, which they both denied.

At least two other male city employees who worked under Garcetti provided a statement saying they had received unwanted hugs, touching or sexual comments from Jacobs.

Another employee told The Times that Jacob’s intimidating behavior was something everyone in the mayor’s office was talking about.

The Times also interviewed two other men who claimed they were groped by Jacobs.

A confidential memo from City Atty. Sent to council members in September, Hydee Feldstein Soto’s office recommended settling the case. The memo cited the “high likelihood of an adverse settlement and recovery of damages and attorneys’ fees in excess of $5,000,000.”

The memo highlights, among other things, a photo taken during the U.S. Conference of Mayors in Miami in 2017, in which Jacobs holds his hand over another man’s crotch. Garcetti stands nearby and gives a “thumbs up.”

“The photo raises concerns about the mayor’s lack of awareness of Jacobs’ sexually inappropriate behavior,” the memo said.

The costs to taxpayers from the scandal extend beyond the $1.8 million payout. Records reviewed by The Times show the city’s law firm spent more than $276,000 on various expenses, including Garza’s therapist assessment and trial experts.

The city attorney’s office also hired investigator Leslie Ellis to investigate the claims. Her report, which cost nearly $100,000, concluded that Garza was not the victim of inappropriate behavior by Jacobs.

Garza’s allegations were dismissed by some in the mayor’s inner circle, who suggested Garza was angry with the mayor for statements he made about police after the 2020 killing of George Floyd.

The scandal also consumed the final years of Garcetti’s time as mayor, after Senator Charles E. Grassley (R-Iowa) halted the mayor’s appointment as ambassador to India and conducted an investigation that found Garcetti “probably knew whether should have known” about his aides’ alleged misconduct.


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