Top LA cop's Asian ring tone lands him in hot water

April 16, 2013 at 4:43 PM
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LOS ANGELES, April 16 (UPI) -- A top commander in the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said he was reprimanded for a cellphone ring tone that appeared to mock Asians.

Commander Paul Pietrantoni was in a meeting with top brass at the department when his personal cellphone went off. The ring tone was "The Oriental Riff" -- along with a stereotypically Asian voice saying, "Hello, you pick up phone. You pick up phone."

Pietrantoni didn't do himself any favors after the embarrassing disruption when he said "Oh, that must be Mr. Tanaka calling me," the Los Angeles Times said Monday.

He was referencing Paul Tanaka, the department's second in command, who is Japanese American.

Pietrantoni was previously questioned for an incident at Los Angeles County Jail when a Jewish inmate refused to leave his cell without a yarmulke. Pietrantoni negotiated with the man and eventually fashioned one out of a milk carton.

During a meeting, Pietrantoni remarked he'd have sung the chorus to "Fiddler on the Roof" if it would have made the man leave his cell peacefully.

He denied the comment was anti-Semitic, saying it was a joke.

"I'm the most anti-racist person in the world," he said. "My two best friends in the whole world are Jews from New York."

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