Second black county officer files racial bias suit, claims he was victim of harassment for 1 1/2 years White sergeant accused of carrying noose in office

March 06, 1997|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,SUN STAFF

A second black Baltimore County police officer has filed suit in federal court alleging racial discrimination in the department, including an incident in which a white sergeant is accused of carrying a noose around the offices of the Western Traffic Division.

The suit, filed Monday in U.S. District Court in Baltimore by a Bethesda attorney representing 12-year veteran Officer Calvin B. Settle, 33, seeks $9.6 million in damages because of the harassment.

One of Settle's co-workers in the Western Traffic Division, Officer Keith Harris, filed a similar suit against the department in September asking for $1.8 million in damages. Hearings have not been scheduled in either case.

Settle's suit, filed against the department and current and former officials, says the noose incident occurred in December 1992 when Sgt. Ronald Earp carried it through the traffic office.

Earp would not comment last night except to say the department's internal affairs unit investigated and determined Settle's complaint was unfounded.

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

Both lawsuits allege a pattern of discrimination predating the December 1992 incident and ending with the transfers of Settle, Harris and another black officer, Charles M. Floyd, to patrol jobs in April 1996. Settle, who was transferred to a patrol postion at the Woodlawn Precinct, said last night he could not comment.

Bill Toohey, a police spokesman, said the department's internal affairs division investigated Settle's and Harris' complaints for 18 months but ruled them unfounded. The department believes the object cited in the suit was not a noose but a hand-fashioned device used to pry open a locked car door through a partly open window, Toohey said.

Pub Date: 3/06/97

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