Racial lawsuit filed against Fort Myers Police
Photo: Video by fox4now.com
CREATED Apr. 29, 2013
Fort Myers, Fla.-- Fort Myers police officer O’Neil Kerr is suing the city for racial discrimination. In the lawsuit he says he was fired and then re-hired by the department, but not by choice.
It was filed in U.S. District Court in Fort Myers last week. Since it’s filed in federal court it means that he's not suing for wrongful termination, but rather racial discrimination within the police department.
"I've had a clean record. I've never been disciplined by the City of Ft. Myers Police Department," Kerr told FOX4 in March of 2012 after he was given his job back. He had been fired in 2011 after being charged with Domestic Violence. The charges were later dropped.
In a lawsuit filed last week against the city O’Neil says the city gave him his job back out of fear. The suit says, "fearing that evidence of unlawful discriminatory employment practices was about to be public".
Kerr's lawsuit goes deep into allegations of racism within the department saying that Chief Doug Baker and the investigator who handled Kerr's case "are and were known by the city to harbor racial and national origin hostility and engage in discriminatory practices against minority personnel".
And; "In august of 2011 a Fort Myers officer furnished a sworn statement that the chief and an internal affairs investigator spoke racial slurs against a black female officer because she had filed a complaint".
The lawsuit also mentions that that same investigator, "used the 'n' word in front of other police officers"
And; "this investigator has had numerous complaints of discrimination lodged against him by private citizens and city employees alike". It goes on to say, in essence, nothing's been done about it.
O’Neil mentioned the problems when speaking with FOX4 in March of 2012. "There were other officers or other employees who were not black that when they were faced with a similar situation or worse situations, they were able to retain their job and I wasn't," he said.
Kerr's suit says white officers were suspended for being "Intoxicated while on duty", "Failing a drug test", "Battery of a prisoner", "Domestic violence arrest", and "DUI arrest", but were never fired.
FOX4 reached out to Police Chief Baker who responded through a Captain by saying, “we can not comment on pending litigation”.
Mayor Randall Henderson said he doesn’t have enough background or information about the lawsuit and “therefore there is nothing I can offer that would be a responsible contribution to your report”.
Copyright, 2013 WFTX