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Police officer sues over transfer from department’s news media office

Updated: February 19, 2014 12:04AM

A former officer in the Chicago Police Department’s news office has filed a lawsuit alleging she was unjustly transferred out of the department after she reported that another officer yelled and swore at her during a workplace confrontation.

Laura Kubiak, now a patrol officer who worked in the Office of News Affairs from 2000 to 2013, filed the suit in U.S. District Court on Tuesday against the city and two of her former supervisors.

The suit alleges that another officer in the division accosted her without provocation. When Kubiak reported the alleged assault to her supervisors, the other officer was not disciplined, while she was transferred to another, more dangerous, position as a patrol officer, she claims.

In November 2012, Kubiak and a co-worker, also a News Affairs officer, were leaving after their shift ended when a third News Affairs officer — one who had been sued at least three times for excessive use of force — ran toward the two, the suit claims.

The officer was “enraged” by a report Kubiak had drafted for the media — one of the primary duties of officers assigned to the Office of News Affairs.

“[The officer] ran up to Officer Kubiak, interfering with her ability to leave, and screamed at her, ‘Who the f--- do you think you are, you stupid b----?’” the suit stated. “[The officer] repeatedly shook his finger in Officer Kubiak’s face and then swung his hand back as if to strike her.”

Kubiak feared for her safety and backed away, jerking her head to the side, at which point the co-worker attempted to calm the officer yelling at Kubiak, the suit stated.

The officer continued to yell at Kubiak, adding “You are nothing, you are a stupid b----, you don’t know how to be the police, I am the police, I am the real police,” according to the suit.

Kubiak went back to her desk and called the director of News Affairs to tell her what had occurred. Kubiak told the director the officer who yelled at her “had similar outbursts in the past towards her,” the suit stated. While Kubiak was on the phone, the officer who confronted her followed her back to her desk and “continued to berate and intimidate her,” according to the suit.

The next day, Kubiak spoke to the News Affairs director again about what happened. The director said she “didn’t have time” to discuss it with Kubiak and that those involved should discuss it at a later, unspecified time, the suit stated.

“Instead [the director] warned Officer Kubiak, ‘don’t embarrass the Superintendent’,’” the suit stated.

Kubiak then requested at least two meetings with another lieutenant to discuss the incident, which the lieutenant never agreed to. At that point, Kubiak submitted a memorandum that led to an Internal Affairs investigation into the officer, the suit stated.

Despite the memorandum, the lieutenant assigned Kubiak to work with the officer two weeks after the incident occurred, the suit stated. Kubiak had previously told her supervisor “she did not feel safe working with [the officer].”

In mid-February 2013, the Internal Affairs Division told Kubiak her complaint against the officer had been sustained. The other co-worker with whom Kubiak was leaving at the time of the confrontation corroborated her complaint, the suit stated.

Less than two weeks later, Kubiak and the officer who corroborated her claims were both transferred out of News Affairs. Kubiak was sent to “one of the more dangerous neighborhoods in Chicago as a beat officer on the midnight shift,” according to the suit.

The officer who allegedly assaulted Kubiak remained in the News Affairs office as of Feb. 18, 2014. He is not named as a defendant in the suit.

The city of Chicago, the lieutenant and the then-director of News Affairs were named as defendants.

A spokesperson for the city’s Department of Law did not comment on the suit Tuesday.

The three-count suit alleges retaliation in violation of the First Amendment; conspiracy in deprivation of Constitutional rights; and a violation of the Illinois Whistleblower Act. It seeks an undisclosed amount in damages.

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