Yakima Police Officer Rey Garza speaks out about retaliation claim

Yakima Police Officer Rey Garza speaks out about retaliation claim
YAKIMA -- Yakima City Council is expected to officially settle a lawsuit with Police Officer Rey Garza Tuesday night.

In the span of a year, Rey Garza says he went from Officer of the Year to a target within his own department.

He sued the city for what he called years of mistreatment and retaliation, after blowing the whistle on a superior officer under the leadership of Former Police Chief Sam Granato.

"And because I filed this complaint against one of his good friends, Ben Hittle, he came after me. But we're police officers. We're sworn to help protect people," said Yakima Police Officer Rey Garza.

Yakima Police Department investigated Garza himself five separate times.

Those cases examined his competency, looked into claims of domestic violence and checked allegations he used and sold drugs.

Garza was issued a total of three pre-termination notices, appearing before Former City Manager Dick Zais on three separate issues to defend his job.

He was able to keep his job and tells KIMA it was knowing he didn't do anything wrong that kept him from breaking.

"What motivated you to stay?" Action News asked.

"I kept fighting because I knew I was right. Like I always tell people, if I mess up history will show you. Because I'm not saying I'm perfect, because I've messed up but I've taken my punishment and I've moved on," said Garza. "But if you come after me because what I did was right and I know I was right. I'm going to fight you and that's exactly what happened."

No one from the police department wanted to comment on camera about the settlement, which will be paid by the city's insurance.

We took the questions to Mayor Micah Cawley.

"We're trying to look forward not backwards. It's not the city of Yakima's money, but that's not an excuse. But, the insurance company wants to settle a case. It's our obligation to sign off if we don't want to pay because if we don't sign off, then we're stuck with whatever bill comes out in trial," said Cawley.

Garza says the retaliation stopped when the old administration left.

He's still on the force and is moving forward.

"Forgiveness, I've been trying to do that. I have to," said Garza.

Garza is the first officer who sued the city to share his story.

While the city's insurance company technically settled with Garza, $100,000 will come directly from Yakima as its deductible.