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Chief Chris Magnus

Former Richmond police officer sues city and Chief Magnus for wrongful termination, sexual harassment

on April 9, 2015

A former Richmond police officer is suing the City of Richmond and Chief of Police Chris Magnus for wrongful termination, claiming that he was discriminated against after he reported to his supervisor that Magnus allegedly made sexual advances towards him.

Thomas Hauschild, 44, was a police officer with the city for over eight years. According to a civil suit filed with the U.S. District Court in San Francisco on April 3, Hauschild began duty as an officer in July 2005, and, due to positive performance reviews, was selected to be a firearms instructor and a member of the SWAT team.

According to the lawsuit, Hauschild was assigned to a surveillance and protection detail outside of the private residence of Magnus and his husband after Magnus received threats from the community. Magnus said on Thursday that the surveillance detail, which was posted in 2009, was a response to what the investigation division at the time had deemed “credible threats” involving the son of a neighbor who used methamphetamine and who had allegedly concocted a plan to break into Magnus’ home. Magnus said that the neighbor’s son “had come to the conclusion that, as a police officer, I must have a bunch of guns in the house.”

In the suit, Hauschild alleges that one evening during his surveillance shift, Magnus, while “dressed in questionable civilian attire” and walking his dog, approached Hauschild and began touching him “inappropriately on his arm” and rubbing him “on his upper leg, in an obvious sexual manner.” Hauschild also alleges in the lawsuit that Magnus had called him on his personal phone on numerous occasions, which “made [Hauschild] feel uncomfortable.”

Hauschild reported the incident to his supervising lieutenant, according to the lawsuit. Hauschild then alleges in the lawsuit that Magnus began “a pattern of retaliatory conduct,” including denying him overtime and training, refusing to select him for a sergeant or homicide division position, removing him from the SWAT team and subjecting him to a “biased” internal investigation.

Hauschild was terminated from the police department in December 2013 following the internal investigation. Both the city manager’s office and the police chief have stated that Hauschild was terminated for multiple serious acts of misconduct, including domestic violence and weapons-related violations.

Hauschild’s attorney, David M. Poore of the law firm Brown Poore LLP, did not return calls for comment.

Magnus, who is openly gay, dismissed the lawsuit as “baseless.” In a statement posted Sunday to the Richmond Police Department’s Facebook page, Magnus wrote: “This officer and his attorney… apparently decided to exploit the fact that as a police chief who happens to be gay, I would be ‘vulnerable’ to this particular type of accusation.” He called Hauschild’s allegations of sexual harassment – the first such allegation in Magnus’ tenure as Richmond police chief – a “new low when it comes to bogus claims.”

“He’s reaching to the bottom of the barrel to find something to justify a lawsuit,” Magnus said Thursday over the phone. “The city has to make personnel decisions that people don’t always like, and this particular decision was made by the city manager. The former officer now has the opportunity to take it to arbitration and legal action, which is his choice.”

The internal investigation began in September, 2012, when Hauschild was arrested on suspicion of domestic violence during a dispute with his ex-wife, according to the Contra Costa Times. During the arrest, deputies also confiscated eight unregistered firearms from Hauschild’s home, the suit states. Hauschild was placed on administrative leave, and the police department conducted an internal investigation into Hauschild’s conduct, during which time the department found that Hauschild had been the aggressor in the domestic violence dispute and that he had defaced property by placing a condom on his ex-wife’s front door, the suit says. When Hauschild denied the charges during an interview with the internal affairs investigator, the department further determined that Hauschild had lied to the investigator, according to the lawsuit.

In his suit, Hauschild disputes the investigation’s findings, claiming that his ex-wife struck him during a child custody exchange and that the unregistered firearms were purchased in private sales from other Richmond police officers, whom Hauschild says were at fault for failing to register the sales. Hauschild says he was terminated “without an adequate showing of good cause, and for merely being arrested for a misdemeanor crime” that occurred more than a year before his termination, according to the suit.

The city will retain an independent investigator to conduct a full review of the case, as required by state law, according to Richmond City Manager Bill Lindsay.

“I must keep an open mind in light of my position as City Manager, but Chief Magnus will continue to have my full confidence pending the outcome of the investigation,” Lindsay said in a statement. “I must say that given the age of the claims and the fact [that] they are filed by an officer who was fired and is, therefore, biased … this lawsuit appears facially meritless.”

This is not the first time Chief Magnus has been sued by Richmond police officers. Magnus, who has otherwise been widely recognized as a champion of effective community policing, wrote in his post on the police department’s Facebook page, “One of the things I’ve unfortunately had to become used to as a police chief is getting sued.” In another high-profile case, seven high-ranking black Richmond police officers sued the City of Richmond for racial discrimination in 2007, alleging that they were blocked from advancement in the department and that Magnus and former Deputy Chief Lori Ritter, both of whom are white, made racist jokes. After a three-month civil trial, a Contra Costa County jury sided with the city in 2012. That lawsuit cost the city about $4 million in legal fees.

Poore has also served as attorney to Shawn Pickett, one of the seven plaintiffs in the racial discrimination suit against the city.

The city and Magnus have retained attorneys Arthur Hartinger and Geoffrey Spellberg of the Oakland-based law firm Meyers Nave. Hartinger and Spellberg are the same attorneys who defended the city in the racial discrimination case.

“We will vigorously defend this case,” Hartinger said in a statement, “and also seek sanctions against Mr. Hauschild for what we expect to be proven to be a frivolous lawsuit.”



  1. John Spartan on April 10, 2015 at 2:04 am

    Chris…how much is this law suit going to cost? Chris…have you ever heard of POBR? Your fancy little self-serving statement on FB violates Hauschild’s POBR rights…or maybe you figured that out and reason it was taken down. Millions of dollars have already been spent defending you but I guess that is ok?? Lindsey wake up, Chris is coming for your job!

    • C. Larsen on April 13, 2015 at 3:10 pm

      I can’t even imagine why you’d think a police chief would want the city manager’s job.

    • C. Larsen on April 13, 2015 at 3:12 pm

      It also says tons about you that the first thing you can think of here is defending the supposed procedural rights of an ex-officer who was terminated for misconduct. Way to inspire confidence in other officers in this department. This is the kind of brotherhood in blue bull that merits a racketeering investigation. Would you also lie to protect the career of another officer?

  2. Johnelle Spartanella on April 10, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    What an in-depth article. Linds(a)y and the rest of the City of Richmond are lucky to have the Chief. I checked the Richmond Police Department’s Facebook page because I thought John Spartan was right. John Spartan is wrong. 100% wrong. The Facebook posting is still up.

    • John Spartan on April 10, 2015 at 5:45 pm

      It still might be up now…it was down two days ago. But still self-serving statement which violates POBR! I guess it is ok to be a racist and commit sexual harassment since crime is down!? The city will be stuck with millions of dollars in legal fees but I guess that is okay with you. Not very original Chris…or Terrance just use your own name.

      • C. Larsen on April 10, 2015 at 10:36 pm

        I see nothing in Gov’t Code section 3300-3313, to which I think you’re referring, that is relevant for this case or the Facebook post. Particularly so since Hauschild is no longer a police officer.

        I don’t see why cost should be a primary consideration for this, either.

      • C. Larsen on April 11, 2015 at 8:28 pm

        You still haven’t said how POBR is supposed to be in play here.

        • John Spartan on April 11, 2015 at 9:13 pm

          I am writing this very slowly so that you can understand me… may be difficult but read a little further and it is quite obvious.

          • C. Larsen on April 12, 2015 at 3:23 pm

            Clearly you have no idea what you’re talking about. You write like a wannabe; I hope the only badge you have came out of a Cracker Jack box.

          • John Spartan on April 12, 2015 at 9:13 pm

            Cracker jack box….hey Larsen 1980 called they want their joke back! Surrounded by losers!

  3. Johnelle Spartanella on April 10, 2015 at 9:23 pm

    Wrong again John Spartan. Just a community resident who’s tired of your bullying of our Chief. I’ll reveal myself the moment you reveal who you really are.

    • John Spartan on April 10, 2015 at 11:07 pm

      Ok Chris

  4. Johnelle Spartanella on April 11, 2015 at 6:38 am

    Wrong again John Spartan.

    • John Spartan on April 11, 2015 at 1:15 pm

      I don’t think so…but your choice to support narcissistic piece of crap! I can’t reveal myself because John Spartan is not one officer but John Spartan represents all hard working officers who just want to do their jobs without interference from bureaucrat who never was a good cop to begin with! Answer me this…when your house is being broken into, your car being stolen, your loved one being robbed.. who you want to respond? Chris Magnus or John Spartan?

      • C. Larsen on April 11, 2015 at 3:39 pm

        Personally, and I’m guessing much of Richmond would agree, I’d rather it be the chief. Better move on, John.

        • John Spartan on April 11, 2015 at 3:57 pm

          Good luck with that loser!

        • John Spartan on April 11, 2015 at 6:00 pm

          Larsen you either don’t live in Richmond or are clueless to what happens in down town area. Most citizens would much rather have a crime fighter show up over a sign carrier!

          • C. Larsen on April 11, 2015 at 8:27 pm

            I do live in Richmond, and I’m well aware of what happens. But if you’re promoting crime fighting of the Ferguson sort, go stuff it.

  5. John Spartan on April 11, 2015 at 9:17 pm

    Ferguson….oh my, you are clueless! officer was being attacked end of story! DNA from suspect on officers gun…eye witness reports that suspect charging officer. Climb back under your rock and stop commenting on something you have no idea about!!

    • C. Larsen on April 12, 2015 at 9:37 pm

      Officer being attacked? Officer-involved shooting? Did you even read the damn article?

      • C. Larsen on April 12, 2015 at 9:59 pm

        Or were you referring to Darren Wilson? I was referring to the pattern of prejudiced policing found by the Justice Department.

    • C. Larsen on April 12, 2015 at 10:20 pm

      Are you really so thick as to not realize that a great deal of community goodwill toward the police, which helped us not have any post-Ferguson riots, is associated, rightly or wrongly, with the chief? And that such goodwill redounds to every officer? And that the RPOA objection to the chief holding a sign in uniform was so damn tonedeaf it ought to be condemned by any officer with any self-interest? Instead, your conduct here, if you’re actually an officer, points to exactly why we need this chief, to keep you in line.

      • John Spartan on April 12, 2015 at 10:58 pm

        You do realize that good candidates for officers trying to get hired with RPD pulled their applications after that stunt Chris did for media attention. You sit back in your comfy living room making judgements you know nothing about. It’s only going to get worse after Chris runs the City Manager out of town. You blindly follow a man you probably don’t know very well or you are blinded by friendship…either or you are very wrong. I’m going to move on to different subject matter on other blogs…I’ve clearly made my points here. Next

        • C. Larsen on April 13, 2015 at 3:13 pm

          If they pulled their applications, good riddance. Those aren’t the sort of officers we need in this town.

  6. John Spartan on April 11, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    That shooting was cleaner than many officer involved shootings under Chris’ rule.

    • C. Larsen on April 12, 2015 at 10:21 pm

      So you’re saying we shouldn’t trust Richmond officers?

      • John Spartan on April 12, 2015 at 10:47 pm

        If u could read it is obvious you can’t trust the chief.

        • C. Larsen on April 13, 2015 at 3:14 pm

          You can’t enumerate reasons why, I’m sure.

  7. John Spartan on April 11, 2015 at 9:25 pm

    Ask your buddy Chris for ride along form if you want to see real Richmond!

    • C. Larsen on April 12, 2015 at 9:41 pm

      I’m sure you know so much about it, hiding in your little cruiser. Do you even live in the city?

      • John Spartan on April 12, 2015 at 10:50 pm

        RPD paid me well enough that I don’t have to live in the ghetto! Retired to a much better place.

        • C. Larsen on April 13, 2015 at 3:15 pm

          Thank god you’re gone. See, that’s the problem, so many cops are in it for the authority and the pay and getting to pretend they’re freaking heroes who deserve some kind of pedestal. Guess what, you’re not. You sound like Cartman. Good riddance.

          • C. Larsen on April 13, 2015 at 3:20 pm

            And see, Richmond is still here. And it will be after you’re dead and gone. Guess we can get along just fine without your kind of meathead policing.

  8. Johnelle Spartanella on April 13, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Thank you “John Spartan.”

  9. Johnelle Spartanella on April 13, 2015 at 10:06 am

    Thank you for letting us know you’re no longer a part of the police department. You’ve been nothing but rude, demeaning, and disrespectful to me and C. Larsen with your comments. You’ve called us clueless and a “loser.” We certainly don’t agree with you, but we’ve not gotten personal with you.

  10. Johnelle Spartanella on April 13, 2015 at 10:08 am

    So thank you for retiring from the Richmond police department. You say you represent many voices in the police department with your sentiments. If those you represent are equally rude, disrespectful, and demeaning to the public as you, then on behalf of the tens of thousands of residents like me and C. Larsen who support the chief and believe the city of Richmond is heading in the right direction, thank you for your retirement.

    • C. Larsen on April 13, 2015 at 3:16 pm

      I can only think he’s Cartman, “Respect my authoritah!” Can’t even answer why he thinks POBR applies for a fired officer.

  11. Johnelle Spartanella on April 13, 2015 at 10:10 am

    You call our city a ghetto. So I’m glad you’ve found a new place you can call home. I wish nothing but the best for you “John Sparten.” Peace and love dear brother. Peace and love.

  12. C. Larsen on April 13, 2015 at 3:47 pm

    So, John, you can’t say why POBR applies, which reveals a lack of critical thinking. You claim to speak for Richmond officers, which is presumptuous. You characterize a diverse city as a ghetto, which is prejudiced. You make ridiculous accusations toward others, which is paranoid. You hide behind a pseudonym, even though retired out of the area, which is cowardice. And though you think you’re a hero, Richmond is still here, so your existence has been one of futility. No wonder you’re bitter and just lash out.

  13. Johnelle Spartanella on April 13, 2015 at 9:16 pm

    Peace and Love to my dear brother “John Spartan.” Wherever you’re ending up, I hope you find tranquility from your harmful hate and distain of Richmond and residents like us; and calm and quiet from the constant unhealthy obsession with our police chief. Peace and love to you brother “John Spartan!”

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