Chicago Sun-Times

Female cop’s suit: Good guys punished

- MARY MITCHELL Email: Twitter: @MaryMitche­llCST

Alawsuit filed by a veteran female police officer accuses the Chicago Police Department of protecting the bad guys and punishing the good ones.

Until two years ago, Laura Kubiak was assigned to the Chicago Police Department’s Office of News Affairs. Kubiak alleges she was abruptly reassigned to a beat patrol in retaliatio­n for complainin­g that another officer assaulted her in the workplace.

The suit was filed in the Northern District of Illinois on Tuesday.

Kubiak alleged that Veejay Zala became “enraged” over a report Kubiak prepared.

As Kubiak was trying to leave the office, Zala allegedly ran up to her and screamed: “Who the f--- do you think you are, you stupid b----?”

The officer repeatedly “shook his finger” in Kubiak’s face and followed her back to her desk while “berating” and “intimidati­ng” her,” according to the lawsuit.

An employee who witnessed the assault expressed fear that “Zala was going to pull out his gun and shoot Kubiak,” the lawsuit alleged.

Kubiak alleged in her lawsuit that police department maintains “a custom, practice, and/or policy of protecting and rewarding officers with a history of excessive force and other misconduct and giving them preferenti­al treatment at the expense of those who report their unlawful misconduct.”

Before being assigned to news affairs, Zala was found guilty of battery and using excessive force.

On Wednesday, Zala said he is unable to comment on the Kubiak allegation­s.

But a spokesman for the City of Chicago defended the decision to reassign Kubiak.

“The City believes the evidence will demonstrat­e that the decision to return Laura Kubiak to her previous assignment was a valid personnel decision in line with CPD’s efforts to civilianiz­e the department and put more officers on the street,” said Shannon Breymaier.

According to the lawsuit, Kubiak appealed to Melissa Stratton, who was then the director of news affairs, and to Lt. Maureen Biggane, Kubiak’s supervisor, about the alleged assault. Both women are named as defendants in the lawsuit.

“[I]t was clear” the two women “did not want to discuss” it and “did not want her to further report [the allegation],” according to the lawsuit.

In fact, Kubiak said Stratton warned her not to “embarrass the Superinten­dent.”

Kubiak filed a complaint with the Internal Affairs Division, and her complaint was sustained. But soon afterward, both Kubiak and Robert Perez, the officer who allegedly witnessed the alleged assault, were history.

“It’s unfortunat­e that after Kubiak and Perez went to the Internal Affairs Division, they found themselves booted out of News Affairs while officers with records of excessive force remain with no consequenc­es,” said Megan O’Malley, the attorney representi­ng Kubiak.

“Laura Kubiak had a career, and that career ended after she complained. She isn’t just a police officer who suffered damages, she is also a resident of the City of Chicago like the rest of us. As a private citizen, she is very concerned about the pattern of

The alleged assault appears to be a classic case of bullying.

police misconduct,” O’Malley added.

One of the first things you learn as a journalist is that most police officers really don’t like talking to the media. For that reason, a lot of officers come across as rude even when they are not.

That’s never happened with Kubiak. She was always pleasant and profession­al, and her personalit­y has been missed.

Additional­ly, the alleged assault appears to be a classic case of bullying. That misconduct should have resulted in a serious consequenc­e for the bully, rather than a retaliatio­n lawsuit.

It also is troubling that two of the women with influence in the Chicago Police Department allegedly ignored Kubiak’s distress over an incident that the female police officer found threatenin­g.

“These women chose not to protect her but to retaliate,” O’Malley said.

“She was very, very disappoint­ed by that.”

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