Before retiring, captain Rick Stabile displayed sympathies with right-wing protesters. Now he openly supports them.
Before retiring, LAPD captain Rick Stabile blocked anti-fascist activist and writer Chad Loder on what was an official LAPD Twitter account. A deposition from a lawsuit recently settled for legal fees of $43,245 and a $1 award for the plaintiff shows Stabile had troubling sympathies with the same right-wing extremists he was charged with policing on multiple occasions. He’s also shown a penchant for conspiracy theories involving the left. While a captain, his Twitter account even showed several moments of support for extrajudicial violence against left-wing protesters.
Stabile spent 33 years in total with the LAPD, eventually working his way up to “captain III.” Though he worked for numerous stations, Stabile worked three stints at Hollenbeck Division through his career. Stabile also worked in Gang Enforcement Detail, Robbery Apprehension Team, and Gang Task Force.
Stabile did not respond to multiple requests for comment from Knock LA.
Stabile showed leniency toward fellow officers engaging in misconduct. In 2018, Stabile reviewed a complaint regarding officer Nicholas Owens. While off duty, Owens posted a “speak no evil” monkey emoji in the comments of a Facebook video showing an interview of former boxer Mike Tyson; one of Tyson’s responses in the interview included swearing. Stabile held that Owens’ posting of the imagery of a monkey in reference to Tyson did not rise to the level of employee misconduct.
A deputy chief recommended 10 days of suspension, but he was suspended for only five days via a lieutenant. A Board of Rights panel later ruled that there was no employee misconduct. The Board of Rights is a board where officers may appeal disciplinary actions taken by LAPD.
On social media, Stabile seemed to express his views on policing and politics. His Twitter account stuck primarily to positive messages about LAPD, but there were likes, follows, and conversations with right-wing accounts. By 2020, he was following and conversing with several right-wing conspiracy theorists.
One day after conspiracist Ian Miles Cheong falsely claimed that a Compton schoolteacher was a suspect in the shooting of two LA County Sheriff’s Department deputies, Stabile posted a video from Cheong in his feed. The video contained the killing of Ricardo Munoz by Lancaster, Pennsylvania, police officers.
Stabile’s Protest Response Led to People Injured by Less Lethals
On October 11, 2020, a large crowd of people took to downtown LA to celebrate the Lakers winning the NBA Finals. The crowd began in a celebratory mood. As the night continued, some revelers began lighting fireworks, doing burnouts with their vehicles and even breaking into a Starbucks.
Eventually, confrontations between the crowd and LAPD escalated throughout downtown. Stabile was named as the officer in charge of the police response in a court case which resulted from LAPD’s response that night.
A lawsuit filed by Kimberly Marroquin ended with the City of Los Angeles paying her $1.5 million after a jury trial. Marroquin attended the Los Angeles Lakers celebration and was hit in the right side of the head by a less lethal munition.
Stabile was named as a co-defendant “for his own culpable action or inaction in the training, supervision or control of his subordinates.” Though colloquially called less lethal munitions, 37mm and 40mm rounds are “pain compliance rounds,” designed to cause enough anguish to stop an officer’s target.
LAPD’s response was panned. L.A. Taco Reporter Lexis Olivier-Ray captured a man seemingly unconscious after being pushed. William Gonzalez’s eye “exploded” and permanently lost its vision after being hit with a less lethal in the face. Bleeding profusely from what appeared to be a foam bullet wound to the neck, another man was found by other people celebrating and rushed to a hospital. Manuel Barrientos lost several teeth and a piece of his lip after being shot in the mouth by a less lethal bullet.
LAPD policy restricts officers from pointing less lethals at the head or neck. A lawsuit filed by Black Lives Matter Los Angeles against the City of Los Angeles caused a judge to further restrict LAPD’s use of less lethal munitions toward protesters several months later.
Currently, some of those restrictions include forbidding officers from shooting foam projectile rounds “only when the officer reasonably believes that a suspect is violently resisting arrest or poses an immediate threat of violence or physical harm,” as well as forbidding targeting the area around protesters’ head as well as spine, chest, and groin.
Stabile Favored Right-Wing Protesters at January 6 Protest
On January 6, 2021, hundreds of pro-Donald Trump protesters arrived at Los Angeles City Hall on the same day that thousands showed up to the Capitol riots which resulted in several deaths and hundreds of injured police officers. Members of Southern Poverty Law Center–identified hate groups like the Threepers and Proud Boys marched throughout the Los Angeles City Hall’s park area that day. Dozens of attendees carried weapons like mace, large knives, brass knuckles, and weighted gloves.
While Stabile commanded many of the officers responding that day, there were several physical attacks and dozens of threats by the Trump crowd. Many of those attacks happened while LAPD stood back and watched. Stabile would later characterize the assaults as happening after what he referred to as “Antifa” “continually for hours went into [the protest area] and created conflict, caused fights.” Stabile refused to call the pro-Trump group violent.
Josh Pacheco, an independent genderqueer photojournalist was pushed to the ground and punched in the ear while a small group screamed homophobic slurs. Pacheco fled behind a police vehicle as Trump supporters shouted slurs, and one threatened that Pacheco would be “put down” if they returned to the area.
A Proud Boy kicked a journalist into the side of a nearby city bus. Stabile then told the group of Trump supporters that if there were “any more scuffles, I’m going to be affecting arrests.” Around this time, counterprotesters began to arrive in the area.
Minutes later, Berlinda Nibo, a Black woman, was attacked by the group. Nibo says she asked the crowd to put masks on as she walked through the crowd. Nibo was then attacked by many in the crowd. One woman held the stolen wig of Nibo and celebrated that she “just did the first scalping of the new civil war.”
After arriving outside LAPDHQ, Stabile began telling Nibo to calm down and shoved one of the women attempting to lead Nibo away from City Hall. When Nibo gave descriptions of the attack, Stabile told Nibo that “we’re going to get a citizen’s arrest form, and then we’ll spot them and detain them and make the citizen’s arrest for Battery.” Stabile would later claim that he used the phrase “citizen’s arrest” because Nibo was describing a misdemeanor and it did not occur in an officer’s presence. During the attack on Nibo, several officers were stationed across the street and facing the park area.
Afterwards, LAPD and the FBI investigated the event as a hate crime. LAPD asked for assistance in identifying Thousand Oaks resident Dean Ortmann and another man involved in the attack after Nibo’s story of the event was featured by several news outlets. Both the city attorney and district attorney declined to file any charges presented regarding the attack on Nibo.
Moments later, a Black man holding a Black Lives Matter sign was attacked with mace as well. As the counterprotesters began meeting each other near LAPDHQ, verbal taunts began to once again escalate. LAPD slowly attempted to get in between the roughly 20 counterprotesters and hundreds of Trump supporters.
Several large fights erupted after Trump supporters went past the police line leading to the first arrests of the day and several people were bloodied. Eventually, an unlawful assembly was called only in the area of the counterprotesters while the Trump crowd continued to taunt.
Stabile’s actions and the LAPD were condemned widely on social media, particularly by Loder. Loder tweeted a series of videos of the exchange between Stabile and Nibo.
Citing “safety concerns,” with the approval of captain Stacy Spell — then in charge of LAPD’s Media Relations — Stabile blocked Loder on Twitter. LAPD policy states officers with an LAPD account “generally should not block or mute users or followers unless failure to do so impacts public or officer safety.”
Loder would later file a civil rights lawsuit in May claiming that Stabile and the City of Los Angeles had “deleted Loder’s speech and barred Loder” from a public forum, violating the First Amendment. Loder would eventually settle with the City, with the City paying $43,245 for legal fees and Loder himself receiving $1.
Stabile stated in court that he feared for his life due to Loder’s tweets. In a declaration, Stabile argued that Loder had made “untrue accusations and tweeted [Stabile’s] employment information,” including his salary, badge number, and serial number, and that this put Stabile in danger. In California, serial numbers, badge numbers, and salary information are all publicly searchable information.
According to Stabile’s declaration, he received one email that stated “Why are you such a coward? I hope someone takes you out while on duty.” LAPD cited the email and some strongly worded derogatory comments about Stabile and conducted a threat assessment via the Homicide Unit. Stabile’s declaration says he began paying for Leo Web Services, a private information scrubbing service marketed to police officers.
During a deposition regarding the suit from Loder, Stabile discounted violence from right-wing groups like the Proud Boys at protests in Los Angeles and the attack on the Capitol Grounds. Characterizing Proud Boys in Los Angeles, Stabile said “the counterdemonstrators, the Antifa protestors actually go in and start the violence. So I have seen those groups commit violence, but it’s normally in response to that.” When asked about footage of the Capitol riot he watched, Stabile claimed he wasn’t sure if he’d seen violence: “People protesting or going into a building forcibly assuming no one got hurt, that doesn’t imply that there was violence.”
Stabile Was Highest-Ranked Officer at Disastrous Echo Park Lake Response
By the time the closure of Echo Park and resulting protests had begun on March 25, 2021, many activists had singled out Stabile as a particularly worthy object of their ire. Stabile was greeted with personal jeers several times.
The policing strategy that night was widely condemned: 16 journalists were detained or arrested, 182 people were arrested and several less lethals were fired from a close range toward protesters. Stabile was the highest-ranked officer in the field. A photo containing LAPD’s notes contained the word “Antifa,” hinting at Stabile’s obsession with Antifa.
Stabile had given notice of his retirement in 2017 via a program called DROP, which allows police and firefighters to begin accruing additional benefits after agreeing to set a retirement date. Stabile retired in September 2021.
Post-retirement, Stabile has become more bold with echoing right-wing extremist tropes on his Twitter page, with a particular negative fixation on anti-fascism. He’s accused Spectrum News reporter Kate Cagle of “anti law enforcement posture / reporting.” Stabile compared members of the National Lawyer’s Guild to “the equivalent of an antifa extremist who holds a cellular phone, somehow miraculously becomes a journalist.” He’s released the names and workplaces of several people critical of him on social media.
In November 2022, Stabile posted a photo with a background of the Three Percenter Militia logo. The foreground shows the saying “Laws do not stop evil men. Good men stop evil men.” The post was taken down quickly after another police officer tweeted “you might want to read up on the ADL’s and SPLC’s info on the 3 Percenter militia before you start tweeting out their logo, unless of course that’s your thing sir.”
Stabile has since turned to more directly posting in support of election conspiracy theorists like Kari Lake. Accounts with histories of connections to hate groups and “alt-right” conspiracy theorists like Libs of Tik Tok, Dan Bongino, Andy Ngo, and Tucker Carlson are among Stabile’s followers.
As part of its settlement, LAPD updated some of the language in its social media policy. Though the language does still allow for LAPD accounts blocking users, it notes that users must repeatedly violate a list of specifications for blocking. Loder told Knock LA regarding their suit: “Stabile was held accountable and was forced to try to account for violating [Loder’s] First Amendment rights.” Stabile has continued an online obsession with Antifa, recently getting into an argument calling Loder “a violent member of Antifa.”
What originally were slowly growing accusations of right-wing sympathies was made clear during the Loder case. Stabile’s actions as a ranking police officer during protests lay plain that while tasked with “facilitating” protests, he was willing to go the extra mile to crack down on leftist protesters while failing to act after right-wing demonstrations became violent.