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Family of Andrea Heath: DHS PD pushed her to suicide

A video from 2009 shows former Desert Hot Springs police officer Andrea Heath testifying before a federal grand jury about some of her colleagues from DHSPD, who at the time were under criminal investigation for use of excessive force.

“These people will stop at nothing they will do anything to get back at people,” said Jerry Steering, Heath’s family’s attorney.

Steering says Heath paid the price for being a whistleblower.

In a lawsuit filed in 2012, Heath alleged she was driven out of the department after she cooperated with the feds.

“They made racial slurs, they would send her in the field and instead of sending backup no one would come, she was humiliated, she was degraded,” Steering said.

Steering says it was more than Heath could handle.

In 2013, she was found dead with a gunshot wound to her head at her Cathedral City apartment.

The coroner ruled her death a suicide.

“She told the truth and in response they retaliated by driving her out of the department, driving her out of her mind, which led to her suicide,” Steering said.

Heath’s 27-year-old son and the father of her 11-year-old daughter are now seeking more than $30 million in damages in a federal lawsuit filed Monday.

The lawsuit alleges members of the police department ultimately deprived Heath’s children of a relationship with their mother by driving her to take her own life.

“Could you imagine losing your mother, her committing suicide because she exposed criminal conduct by people charged with our security and safety? It’s a pretty horrible experience,” Steering said.

UPDATE: Desert Hot Springs Police Chief Dale Mondary said he could not comment on the specifics of the lawsuit because he was not here when the allegations occurred. He did offer the following statement:

“I am aware of the allegations against the Department and also the convictions of the two officers. I add that none of the decision makers during that time are currently with the Department and any philosophy, direction and decisions of the previous administrations are gone and we are moving forward. I have full and complete faith in the current Supervisors and Officers of this Department, and know they are making sound ethical and legal judgments consistent with my philosophy and direction and we are serving the community to the best of our ability.”

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