- Associated Press - Tuesday, February 14, 2012

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The deputy who arrested Mel Gibson for drunken driving and later claimed he suffered religious discrimination at work settled his lawsuit Tuesday against the Sheriff’s Department.

Attorneys for James Mee said a $50,000 settlement was reached and must be approved by a county claims board. A trial scheduled to begin this week was canceled.

Mee, who is Jewish, claimed his superiors discriminated against him after arresting Gibson in 2006. Gibson had appeared in a public service announcement while building close relations with the department.

“Deputy Mee did not file his lawsuit for money, but he filed his lawsuit for the principle of what happened to him and he strongly believed in his case,” his attorney Etan Lorant said.

Sheriff Lee Baca’s spokesman Steve Whitmore said the department acknowledged no wrongdoing in the settlement.

“The sheriff has no issues with the settlement,” Whitmore said. “It was purely a business decision.”

Mee pulled over Gibson in Malibu in 2006 and claims his supervisors forced him to remove anti-Semitic comments made by the actor at the time from a report. Mee claimed he later received negative performance reviews and was denied promotion opportunities.

The county denied any wrongdoing throughout the case.

“Deputy Mee loved and still loves being a sheriff’s deputy,” said Yael Trock, another attorney representing the deputy. “All he wants to do is to put his employment dispute behind him and go back to his work protecting the public.”

Gibson’s reputation was damaged for years after details of his rant during the arrest were leaked to celebrity website TMZ.

The actor apologized for his conduct, and his conviction was expunged in 2009 after he completed all the terms of his sentence.

A judge had expressed doubts that Mee would be able to prove his case, and tentatively ruled that he wouldn’t be able to call Gibson or Baca as witnesses.

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Anthony McCartney can be reached at https://twitter.com/mccartneyAP

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