(NewsNation) — The Los Angeles Police Department union today sued the man behind a Twitter account that called for “clean head-shots” on police officers after names and photographs were published in a public database.
Los Angeles Police Protective League, which is the third largest union in the U.S., says Steven William Sutcliffe “intentionally inflicted emotional distress” with the personal information released in a Freedom of Information Act request.
A series of posts from Sutcliffe “represents a direct threat to the lives and wellbeing of LAPD officers,” the complaint reads.
Sutcliffe’s posts came after a citizen group known as Stop LAPD Spying created a watchdog website and searchable database with the names and photos of police officers, including undercover agents, using information obtained in a public records request.
“We want to equip the community with a means by which they can identify the police officers that enact those harms and empower people to feel like they can, you know, fight back in some sense,” said Matyos Kidane, of Stop LAPD Spying.
The more than 9,000 officers’ names, badge numbers and photographs were also posted to the city’s website, as is their practice after fulfilling public records requests.
The complaint focuses in on a tweet from March 20, in which Sutcliffe posted a link to the database with the caption: “Clean head-shots on these #LAPD officers. A to Z.”
It also details at least eight other posts where he offered money or used suggestive language insinuating violence against officers. The complaint calls the posts “a clear and direct threat to all officers.”
Sutcliffe’s Twitter account, which has very few followers, appears to be dedicated to sharing incidents of police violence.
The union also demanded the database containing the photographs of all LAPD officers be taken down, although there is no connection between the watchdog group and Sutcliffe.
The photos were initially obtained after a city’s attorney ruled in favor of LA reporter Ben Camacho, who claimed LAPD had violated the California Public Records Act by denying his original request for employee headshots last year.
The Los Angeles Police Department has said the release of undercover officers’ information was inadvertent, and the union has asked for an investigation into LAPD Chief Michael Moore and Lizabeth Rhodes, a police administrator III.
“It’s a historic level of incompetence on behalf of the management of the LAPD that caused this leak to occur,” union lawyer Robert Rico said.