Far too often in this era we are apt to name someone a hero when it's not deserved.
But Scott Montoya, an Orange County Sheriff's Department deputy, is unquestionably a man who faced imminent, mortal danger with uncommon courage and saved lives.
During the April 8, 2003, battle for Baghdad, Montoya--on assignment as a U.S. Marine Corps reserve sergeant--ran into sniper fire five times to save four other trapped and wounded Marines and an Iraqi citizen. For such valor, he was awarded the Navy Cross.
Yet, nowadays, the sheriff's department doesn't want him among its ranks. Last October, according to court records, the department fired him after concluding that Montoya: used his job "as a means to meet various women"; engaged in "inappropriate activities with minors"; used foul language in front of citizens; spoke about department issues to someone outside the department; and falsified reports of his activities in the patrol division and Gang Reduction and Intervention Program (GRIP).
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Montoya is fighting to keep his job and has filed a lawsuit against Sheriff Sandra Hutchens for allegedly violating California's Public Safety Officers Procedural Bill of Rights Act. According to the ex-deputy's lawyer Charles A Goldwasser, department officials had a duty to notify Montoya that he was a target when they began to question his job performance.
"[Hutchens and her staff] completed their investigation and dismissed [Montoya] for misconduct . . . without interviewing him," Goldwasser claimed in the lawsuit.
How badly did department officials think Montoya had behaved? In April 2010, they referred the results of their internal investigation to the Orange County District Atttorney's office (OCDA) for possible prosecution. The DA declined to file charges. Then, again, in August 2010, the department sent a second request for prosecution of Montoya. Again, the DA's office rejected the matter.
Hutchens has not yet filed a response.
--R. Scott Moxley / OC Weekly