Los Angeles Hazing Victim Says Justice Not Served

"Justice wasn't done for a black fireman or a minority fireman," Tennie Pierce said.


LOS ANGELES --

The Los Angeles city firefighter who won, lost, and then won a large financial settlement for being fed dog food at work broke his silence on the issue Saturday, saying he was unhappy with the outcome.

"Justice wasn't done for a black fireman or a minority fireman," Tennie Pierce said on KJLH radio's "L.A. Speaks Out" program.

Pierce sued the department after fellow firefighters served him spaghetti spiked with dog food at a stationhouse dinner, and was awarded a $2.7 million settlement by the Los Angeles city council. Talkshow hosts at KFI radio uncovered photos of Pierce hazing other firefighters, causing a public uproar and prompting Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa to veto that settlement.

Just before the case was to go to trial this month, Pierce accepted a $1.4 million settlement to drop the matter.

Pierce told KJLH that there was a significant difference in magnitude between the pranks he pulled, and being fed dog food.

"Pranksterism has been part of fire departments all over the world," Pierce said, defending his own participation in pulling jokes on bosses getting promoted. "But in my situation it was an act of love," Pierce said.

The acts against him were committed in a far different spirit -- to take him down a notch, he said. "We know as fireman that you don't mess with anybody's food.

"When those guys put it in my food, I felt when the captains in the front office didn't come clean me," he said, "they didn't tell me of their involvement -- they should have come clean with me in the beginning."

Pierce criticized the L.A. fire department for promoting some of the mid- level officials who mishandled the incident and the subsequent investigation. The controversy ultimately helped lead to the early retirement of then-Chief William Bammatre last summer.

Pierce said the lawsuit and public controversy was humiliating to his family, and his daughter had to transfer out of her middle school when a KFI broadcast making fun of her father was played on her school bus.