by Lindsey Wallace
The trial of Ruben Lino — a homosexual ex-cop suing the Santa Barbara Police Department (SBPD) — raged on last week as both sides battled to prove the real reasons why the department declined to rehire Lino. While Lino claims it’s because he reported other officers’ homophobic remarks, department brass staunchly insist Lino’s credit history disqualified him. The attorney representing City Hall and the SBPD called a psychologist to the stand who testified it was Lino’s own anxiety that caused him to complain of the “cold shoulder” and lack of backup. This anxiety, he said, began after Lino shot a suspect. (The shooting was not lethal and followed departmental guidelines.) Just prior to the shooting, Lino had been involved in an altercation with a man wielding a knife. Relying on the psychologist’s testimony, the district attorney argued Lino’s “back-to-back nights of terror” caused cognitive distortion.
The plaintiff’s key witness — a retired SBPD background investigator — testified that the background credit report conducted on Lino seemed fishy at best. He suggested that the sergeant who prepared the report must have been pressured to create a reason to not rehire Lino, noting that he was promoted to lieutenant shortly afterward. Lino’s attorney also presented an email in which an SBPD officer questioned Lino’s loyalty and commitment, and claimed he disrupted the department by leaving. When questioned by Lino’s attorney, the officer involved could not explain his comments. The jury is expected to hear closing arguments later this week.