RIALTO - Frank Adomitis knows how to get a cop's attention.

The 52-year-old accountant from Highland ordered a coffee at Starbucks on Riverside Avenue on a Thursday morning in November, but not before wondering aloud why the five police officers there needed to take a break together.

"These guys make very good money and they shouldn't all be sitting around having coffee, and we as the citizens should be able to say something about it," Adomitis said in a telephone interview.

Adomitis filed a $10,000 false imprisonment claim against the city after he says a "bald-headed officer with a mustache" pulled him over for questioning his pay and work ethic.

The claim has been denied, according to the Police Department.

According to Adomitis, four female officers in uniform were at Starbucks with a plainclothed lieutenant.

Adomitis said he stood near the lieutenant in line.

The chief financial officer at a Monrovia hospital, Adomitis claims he told the lieutenant it must be nice to have five city employees on coffee break at the same time, given their extensive benefits and pay, and option to retire at 50.

The lieutenant told him that was a matter of opinion.

"Coming from the private sector side, when I see public union people abusing (the system), it just drives me nuts," Adomitis said.

Adomitis pointed out San Bernardino's bankruptcy filing and placed much of the blame for it on police and firefighter salaries.


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"I could tell the bald one was angry since his face was red," Adomitis says in his claim filed with the city.

Adomitis picked up his coffee. It was around 7:30 a.m. and he was ready to drive the 210 Freeway to work.

He drove onto Riverside Avenue in his green Ford Edge and immediately saw flashing headlights in the rearview mirror.

"And I was almost shocked because he left before me and the next thing he was right behind me," Adomitis said. "He flashed his lights. I looked up and I go `oh no."'

Adomitis claims the lieutenant pulled him over under the pretext that he drove through a red light, but he really just wanted to argue more.

He claims the lieutenant told him that he spent eight years in the Marines, was 46 years old and his job was to protect him.

When Adomitis allegedly asked if he could leave, the lieutenant, according to the claim, "stated that I shouldn't have said what I did in public with his officers present."

Adomitis said he cited his 1st Amendment rights and asked again to leave.

According to the claim, the lieutenant told Adomitis he didn't know what he was talking about, and said the real problem in San Bernardino was related to it being a charter city.

Adomitis said he asked the lieutenant when he could retire.

"He said 50 years old with half of his pay," according to the claim.

Adomitis said he told the lieutenant that was unheard of in the private sector and the city can't afford it.

The lieutenant allegedly refused to give Adomitis his card upon request. Adomitis said the lieutenant walked away.

"My basic position is, if you want to issue a warning or ticket, do what you're going to do, but you don't have the right to harangue me about how inappropriate my statement was," Adomitis said.

In a Nov. 22 email obtained by The Sun, Rialto Police Chief Tony Farrar told Adomitis he had been briefed on the incident.

"There are several witnesses and video that kind of tell a different story," Farrar wrote. "But I was not there, and I respect your viewpoints etc."

Farrar also told Adomitis that if his officer did anything wrong, "he will be held accountable."

In a telephone interview, Farrar said the claim has been rejected.

"The department has investigated the individual's claim in all aspects," Farrar said. "The investigation is complete. The investigation is closed."

Farrar declined to state the lieutenant's name, saying it was an internal investigation and a personnel matter.

He did say the officer shook hands with Adomitis.

Adomitis said he doesn't go out of his way to engage public employees about their salaries. The officers just happened to be standing nearby.

"It just struck me as bizarre that I couldn't say what I want to these guys," Adomitis said. "I'm a libertarian type of guy. I probably shouldn't have said what I did. It was probably out of line."

Adomitis said he plans to take the matter to small claims court.

"I will roll the dice and say `you know what guys, you can't do this,"' he said.


Reach Joshvia email, call him at 909-386-3894.