Police officer says demotion is based on race, sues county

January 28, 1997|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

A black Baltimore County police officer in the same unit where another officer complained of being taunted with a noose has filed a $12.6 million federal lawsuit, charging that he was passed over for promotion, disciplined and demoted because of his race.

In the suit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore, Officer Charles Floyd claims his supervisors gave him poor evaluations because he is black, which prevented him from being promoted despite high test scores.

The suit names Baltimore County Police Department, former Chief Michael Gambrill, current Chief Terrence B. Sheridan and seven department members.

Gambrill, who was chief between September 1993 and April 1996, said yesterday that he could not comment. County police officials deny the allegations.

Michelle M. Martz, Floyd's attorney, said she could not comment until all of the parties have been notified of the suit.

It is the second suit in recent months that alleges discrimination at Western Traffic Unit of the county Police Department.

In September, Officer Keith Harris of that unit filed a $1.8 million suit claiming a pattern of discrimination and saying that in 1992 a sergeant carried a noose around the offices.

The sergeant allegedly asked police dispatchers to use an automatic vehicle locater system to track the whereabouts of black officers, in violation of department policy that the system be used only in emergencies, according to Harris' suit.

County police officials said they do not believe discrimination problems exist in Western Traffic Unit. "We have found no evidence of discrimination, and we have total confidence in the supervisors of that unit," Bill Toohey, a police spokesman.

Toohey said the department's Internal Affairs Division investigated Harris' complaints for 18 months but ruled them unfounded. The department believes the object was not a noose, but a device used to pry open a locked car door, Toohey said.

Floyd's suit says that he, Harris, and other black officers attended a March 25, 1993, meeting during which they complained to supervisors about treatment of black officers by other officers and supervisors in such matters as job assignments, leave and discipline.

According to the suit, the Police Department's Internal Affairs Unit investigated the black officers' complaints about discrimination and found no evidence to support them.

Pub Date: 1/28/97

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