Former Washington D.C. police officer sues district for racial discrimination and harassment

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Friday, June 22, 2007

E. Barrett Prettyman Federal Courthouse in Washington D.C..

According to court documents obtained by Wikinews, Randy Squires, an African American male and a former police officer of the Metropolitan Police Department of the District of Columbia (DCMPD) has filed a lawsuit against the department alleging racial discrimination and harassment by a fellow officer. Squires is also suing the former mayor of D.C., Anthony A. Williams, and the district's Attorney Generals office. Squires is also suing his superior officer, Robert Atcheson, for racial discrimination and harassment.

"Defendant Atcheson treated Plaintiff differently than similarly situated Caucasian police officers in several respect[sic], including but not limited to assignments, evaluation, and disciplinary actions, deprivation of overtime and use of departmental vehicles," stated court papers filed by Squires' attorneys, Donald M. Temple and Dhamian A. Blue of Temple Law Offices in Washington D.C.

Squires accuses Atcheson, a white-caucasian male and a lieutenant in the Environmental Crimes Unit (ECU) Warrant Squad and the Paternity Warrant Squad, of discriminating against him on the basis of the color of his skin and also harassing him while on the job. Squires originally started to work in DCMPD 1988, and shortly after he was hired, he began to work in the ECU. Atcheson was in control of the unit Squires belonged to.

In court documents, Squires alleges Atcheson treated him with "flagrant racial discriminatory conduct," like using the word "mope," which is defined as slang for "nigger," and that the discrimination was "designed to intimidate, insult, emasculate and humiliate" Squires. In one incident in 2002, during a training exercise, Atcheson allegedly "deprived Squires of appropriate breathing apparatus, which is designed to save life in emergency and hazardous situations," but that the apparatus was "provided to two other caucasian officers."

Documents also allege that Atcheson had "falsified" a report to North Carolina State Police after Squires was arrested and wrongfully charged with "unauthorized taking of a police vehicle." Court documents say that the report to N.C. police states that "Atcheson falsely told Plaintiff (Squires) that he had photographic evidence of the police car outside Plaintiff’s home overnight and of Plaintiff driving the car from his home."

Court documents also allege that Squires allegedly informed his superior officer of Atcheson, only known as 'Captain Brito,' of the incident, but no action was ever taken against Atcheson. Squires initially filed a complaint against Atcheson with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, (EEOC) in a letter on March March 8, 2005.

The Washington D.C. police department has investigated the claims made by Squires, which "revealed inappropriate conduct toward Squires," but according to documents, no disciplinary action has been taken against Atcheson or his superiors.

The defendants "deny any and all allegations" that Squires has made against them and also state that Squires "failed to exhaust their administrative remedies and/or failed to comply with other mandatory filing requirements." Defendants also say that "all actions taken by District (Washington D.C.) relating to Plaintiffs were necessary, reasonable, pursuant to lawful authority, and based on legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons" and that "the district denies that any district policymaker adopted, approved, condoned and/or maintained an unconstitutional policy, practice or custom of unlawful employment practices."

Squires is asking at least US$350,000. Squires and the Defendants also request that a jury be present during the trial, which is scheduled to conclude on June 26.

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This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.