Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti says he trusts LAPD Chief Charlie  Beck’s decision to save the job of an officer, who internal affairs  investigators said should be fired for lying about an incident at a  bar.

Garcetti said Wednesday Beck told him the legal case for terminating  Officer Shaun Hillman was weak, and that's why Beck decided to reduce  the punishment to a two-month suspension.

"If it wasn't something that could be held up in a court of law, you  can't just fire somebody," the Mayor said.

Beck told Garcetti a police administrative board dismissed 5 of 8  misconduct charges leveled against Hillman, and Beck feared Hillman  would escape any punishment if Hillman challenged the termination in  court.

"When only 3 of the 8 were found to be correct by this board of rights,  that's a difficult legal hill to climb," Garcetti said, adding he asked  the Chief for more information about the case.

The L.A. Times reported Monday anonymous letters were sent to members  of the Police Commission claiming Hillman had received preferential  treatment.

Hillman's uncle is retired LAPD Deputy Chief Mike Hillman, who worked  closedly with Beck for decades.

Police Commission president Steve Soboroff said Tuesday it was  important that all LAPD officers be treated the same, but declined to  discuss the case.

Hillman was accused in an LAPD misconduct charge sheet of lying about  being sober during a near-fight at a bar in Riverside County, and  making false statements driving and using a slur to describe a Black  man.

Garcetti said he's been assured Hillman is not off the hook, and any  further violations would likely lead to termination.

"An officer should not be getting drunk, should not be using epithets,"  he said. "We need a higher standard for our peace officers."

Regardless of the punishment for the bar incident, the discipline case  would likely be turned-over to defense lawyers if Hillman was ever  called to testify in a court case, making it difficult for the LAPD to  assign him to jobs that involve investigations or arrests, attorneys  say.

-- Eric Leonard in Downtown L.A.