Here are highlights from a lawsuit filed by three black police officers against Pocomoke City, Md., and its police department, alleging an “unchecked pattern and practice of virulent” racial discrimination and retaliation.
The lawsuit, filed Jan. 21, 2016, in U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland, contends former Pocomoke City police chief Kelvin Sewell, Lt. Lynell Green and detective Franklin Savage “were mocked, threatened, demeaned, demoted, punished, falsely accused of misconduct, ostracized and humiliated because of their race.”
“The use of the word ‘n—’ long ago ceased to be tolerated in any American workplace. So, too, did other forms of racial mockery, epithets, threats, humiliation and discrimination based on race in the terms of employment,” the suit says. “Yet, the three Plaintiffs in this action—Officer Savage, chief Sewell, and Lieutenant Green—experienced unlawful conduct of this character on a daily basis.”
City and county officials have denied the allegations of racial discrimination.
The lawsuit contends that soon after Savage was appointed in May 2012 to a regional Joint Task Force, white members of the task force began mocking him.
“Members of the Joint Task Force watched and laughed about racially-charged videos that used the word ‘n—-r,’ ” the lawsuit contends.
In one incident, the lawsuit states, a Worcester County Sheriff’s Officer “asked Officer Savage why African Americans are offended when a White person uses the word ‘n—‘ and its variants. [The officer] then asked Officer Savage how he would personally feel if he called him a ‘n—-er.’
In December 2012, the lawsuit contends, “Joint Task force members took Officer Savage to ‘KKK Lane’ in Stockton, Maryland in Officer Savage’s official covert vehicle provided by the Worcester County Sheriff’s office.” Two officers told Savage, “He might see some Klan members or a noose in Stockton.”
According to the lawsuit:
On Dec. 17, 2013, “Officer Savage found a bloody deer’s tail on the windshield of his car, which was parked on a side street by the Joint Task Force Office.”
In April 2014, “Officer Savage found in his desk drawer a fake food stamp on which an image of President Obama had been imposed.”
On May 31, 2014, Officer Savage was sent a text that read, “What’s ya body count n–? I’m in double digits.”
On March 12, 2015, “an anonymous letter was left on the windshield of Chief Sewell’s car saying that the ‘n—s’ Officer Savage, Lieutenant Green, and Chief Sewell will be gotten rid of. The letter also referred to Chief Sewell as a ‘smart n—chief.’
Ernie Crofoot, Pocomoke City manager and city attorney, said city officials could not comment on the case because of the lawsuit.