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Los Angeles fire chief quits amid scandal

The Los Angeles fire chief announced his retirement Friday amid a racially charged furor involving a black firefighter who was served spaghetti mixed with dog food.

Chief William Bamattre, 54, said the scandal had "political implications beyond the scope of the Fire Department."

"I have become the focus of the debate and that is to the detriment of the LAFD," he said. He planned to step down Jan. 1.

The firefighter who was fed the spaghetti said that it was racial discrimination and that he was harassed after reporting it. Other firefighters insisted it was an ordinary firehouse prank with no racist intent.

A department investigation suggested the prank was prompted by the way firefighter Tennie Pierce, 51, called himself the "Big Dog" during a volleyball game.

The department disciplined two white captains and one Latino firefighter.

The issue blew up last month after the City Council approved a $2.7-million settlement to Pierce and the mayor vetoed it.