|Cops say they might have to flee the country|
|Written by APB Staff|
Two Manhattan Beach, California police officers, fired for their roles in an off-duty hit-and-run crash, are both seeking $10 million from the city in damages.
"This sustained attack, fueled by blind hatred, is clear-cut evidence: There is a conspiracy occurring at the highest levels of the Manhattan Beach local government to ensure that any chance of salvaging a respectable future for myself has been obliterated," the officers wrote.
"These acts of collusion amount to political corruption."
The claims hold City Manager Dave Carmany, the City Council and police command staff responsible for the chief's "malicious abuse of power."
Former chief Uyeda fired Thompson, Eccles and Officer Richard Hatten on last March 18 for their involvement in a Jan. 31, 2010, crash after leaving a local bar. The officers were riding in Hatten's Chevrolet Corvette at the time.
No one was seriously hurt, but Hatten drove away from the scene according to investigators. Hatten's damaged car was found a short time later parked outside a convenience store.
A fourth Manhattan Beach police officer, Jeff Goodrich, responded to the accident while on-duty. Sources told the Daily Breeze he did not file a police report after learning the Corvette belonged to Hatten.
Then chief Uyeda immediately placed the four men on paid leave and requested that the Sheriff's Department conduct traffic and internal affairs investigations.
Eventually, a little more than a year later, Hatten was charged with leaving the scene of a collision.
A judge placed him on three years probation and ordered him to perform 45 days of roadwork after he pleaded no contest to the misdemeanor. In their claims, which are precursors to lawsuits, Thompson and Eccles said the council and Carmany allowed Uyeda to suspend them while carrying out "well-known personal animosity."
"As a respected veteran officer, I was maliciously isolated, without cause, from my daily routine, peer group, lifestyle, and peace of mind, while Uyeda was allowed to publicly, and unscrupulously, suggest that I had violated law and department policies when he had no substantiating evidence to verify his personal theory," each officer wrote.
Thompson, 31 and Eccles, 36, said Uyeda compared them to bin Laden and al-Qaida members during daily discussions, placing them and their families in jeopardy, subject to threats, assaults and "possibly death."
"My patriotism has been undermined, unjustly, causing me to be in fear of unprovoked acts of aggression and in fear of government scrutiny in the name of national security," each man wrote. "I do not feel safe or comfortable any longer residing in the community where I have spent my whole life. I have been forced to consider fleeing the country to escape this continuous bombardment of negative categorization inflicted upon me by Uyeda and the current regime of Manhattan Beach City officials."
Uyeda retired last May. He issued a short statement, declining to comment while the "issue is still pending in the court."
"I have full confidence in the legal process to consider all the facts, all the reports (not just the criminal investigation that the D.A. is restricted to) and render a decision that has truly considered the veracity of all of the statements made and will be in the best interest for the residents of Manhattan Beach and the integrity of the law enforcement profession," Uyeda said.