A lawsuit is being filed against the city of San Diego over its vaccine mandate, claiming it is unconstitutional and violates privacy rights and due process.
Two San Diego police officers and a San Diego paramedic firefighter are among the plaintiffs in the suit.
The legal action was taken by an attorney for the Los Angeles-based group Protection of the Educational Rights of Kids (PERK), also named as a plaintiff in the suit.
“You can not give in to tyranny," said Amy Bohn, the President of PERK at a news conference on Friday. "The people of San Diego are tired of the mandates, they’re tired of the coercion, and they’re tired of the direct assault on their freedoms. It is my honor to announce that PERK has officially filed a lawsuit today.”
At the news conference outside Fire Station 35 at the Eastgate Mall in La Jolla, Bohn introduced several San Diego law enforcement representatives who claimed the mandate is a threat to public safety.
One officer, representing the San Diego Police Officers Association, said dozens of members have left the force because of the mandates.
“Since September 2021, 113 San Diego police officers have either resigned, retired or been terminated because of the mandate,” Adam Devor said.
The claim was immediately refuted by Courtney Pittam, a representative from Mayor Todd Gloria’s office.
“No one has been terminated due to the mandate to date," Pittam said. "According to the city's personnel department, there have been 19 employees who resigned, and one who retired, who all indicated the reason was the city's mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy.”
Later in the day, a public information officer with the San Diego police stated that there had been "113 SDPD separations for all reasons from Sept. 1 through this week."
Speakers at the lawsuit news conference in La Jolla framed the announcement in terms of their role in public safety.
“If you call the police at 2 am, huddled in the closet with the children because someone broke into your home, will you really care about the vaccination status of the police who show up?” Devor asked.
“Ask yourself, when a criminal is threatening you or your family, does the vaccination status of the officer matter coming to help you?” said San Diego Police Officer Jonathan Wiese.
Wiese, along with fellow San Diego police officer Manuel Del Toro, is a plaintiff in the lawsuit.
Wiese was in the news in June 2020 after a heroic rescue effort of twin sisters and their father, who had plunged into the ocean off Sunset Cliffs.
“When twin 2-year-old girls were driven off a cliff into the ocean, I risked my life to save them," Wiese said. "I don’t know — nor can I think of — any parent who would care about my vaccination status when that happened.”
San Diego Firefighter paramedic Justus Norgord is also a plaintiff in the suit.
“I was Patient 1," said Norgord, who made an oft-disputed claim that scientific data calls into question the effectiveness of vaccines. "I was ground zero. I was the No. 1 San Diego firefighter to get COVID back in March of 2020."
Meanwhile, the latest vaccination numbers for city employees show that 1,167 workers are not fully vaccinated. As of Jan. 25, 103 of those workers are members of Local 145, which represents firefighting personnel. Among the San Diego Police Officers Association, 472 are still not fully vaccinated.
Currently, 1,097 city employees have made religious or medical exemption requests.
To date, 86 city workers received an Advance Notice of Termination, for refusing to get vaccinated, according to a representative for the city. Fifty-four of those notices were rescinded, however, “because the employees chose to come into compliance with the city’s mandatory COVID-19 vaccination policy,” city spokeswoman Nicole Darling told NBC 7.
The remaining 32 employees are being afforded all due process rights and rights to representation, Darling added.