A lawsuit filed Friday June 8 on behalf of ex-employee claims wrongful termination and falsified police report in fatal police beating case.
A former Slidebar employee has filed a wrongful termination suit for $4 million against his employer, alleging that management tried to cover up its involvement in the police response that led to Kelly Thomas’s beating death last July.
The lawsuit was filed last Friday in Orange County Superior Court by Solomon, Saltsman & Jamieson, the law firm representing Michael Reeves. It alleges that Slidebar management, including CEO Jeremy Popoff, tried to silence him from talking to authorities after a call was supposedly placed by the Tuesday night manager Jeanette DeMarco to the police when Reeves spotted Thomas looking for cigarette butts.
The lawsuit claims that the phone call DeMarco made to the police was "blatantly false."
Here is the lawsuit: http://www.ssjlaw.com/case_reeves.html
Slidebar, the Fullerton nightlife establishment owned by members of the band Lit, had been at the center of the controversy surround ing Thomas’s death, with protesters decrying the bar’s rumored involvement. The media had reported that police were responding to calls on July 5 that Thomas broke into the cars.
The events that led to Reeves’ termination began not long after Thomas died, with Slidebar management instructing him not to discuss anything about what happened that night, which the lawsuit stated “in furtherance of the conspiracy to attempt to dissuade and/or prevent anyone, particularly Mr. Reeves, from providing information to law enforcement agencies.”
“To that end, Jeremy Popoff and the Slidebar managers adopted and reiterated the false mantra, ‘Slidebar had nothing to do with what happened to Kelly Thomas,’” the lawsuit states.
However, investigators from the Orange County District Attorney’s office talked with Reeves on August 3, which he tried not to discuss with Slidebar management when confronted. His conversation with investigators -- combined with the growing negative reports from Friends For Fullerton’s Future and OC Weekly, and with the DA’s decision to file charges against the officers involved in Thomas’s death -- led to his firing on September 23, 2011.
“Afraid of what criminal liability would do to his and Slidebar's image, Jeremy Popoff decided it was not enough to intimidate Mr. Reeves into silence; Mr. Reeves had to be terminated from his employment,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawyers cited many parts of the California Penal Code, particularly section 136.1(a)(b), which states that any person who knowingly and maliciously prevents and dissuades, or attempts, a victim or witness “from attending or giving testimony at any trial, proceeding, or inquiry authorized by law,” can receive a sentence of one year in county jail.
The California penal code dealing with filing false reports is here. This is for information purpooses only and is not intended as legal advice.
Update: 6-12 6:10
Jeremy Popoff appeared on the John and Ken Show on KFI radio to dispell the growing rumors. Here are some exerpts:
"She did not report on anyone breaking into cars" --the attorney.
The attorney said that there is a recording of the call and that it will come out in the course of the trial.
"There was absolutely no false report made" --Jeremy Poppov
"Even if Kelly was breaking into cars they shouldn't have killed him." --John or Ken.
Jeremy Popoff says that there was an incident where Reeves was letting people in through the outdoor. I have tried that there and they are very strict. He says that after he was told not to do that Reeves became confrontational in front of other employees and customers and was fired at that point, because he "crossed the line".
When asked about the effects of the rumors Popoff said that it has been tough for him and his family. "I've lived in Fullerton for 15 years. My family is a part of the community." --J. Popoff
Of the claims by Reeves: "He never told anybody these claims. The DA. Nobody" --the lawyer
The lawyer says he heard the tapes of the interview of Reeves and he never mentioned anything about these claims on the tapes in the interview.
"The police had ten or 15 minutes of talking to him before they beat him to death" --J. Popoff