Howard County police officer fired He claims discharge is retribution for complaint he filed

October 23, 1997|BY A SUN STAFF WRITER

A Howard County police officer who was fired from the force Monday says he plans to take legal action against the county over alleged racist slurs against his Asian fiancee.

Officer Paul Smith, 38, was fired after an internal review board last week found him guilty of conduct unbecoming an officer and falsifying a police report in connection with an incident involving the clerk of a Jessup video store in August 1996.

But Smith -- a 10-year veteran of the Howard force -- says the real reason he was fired was because he filed a formal complaint against a superior officer in September 1996, accusing him of speaking in broken English while referring to Smith's Taiwanese fiancee, Kuei "Amy" Huei Lin, who was a witness in the video store incident.

Howard County police spokesman Sgt. Steven Keller said yesterday the department would not comment on personnel matters.

Smith says he intends to file a civil lawsuit against the department under Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act.

"If I hadn't filed that complaint, I'm convinced that nothing this catastrophic would have happened," Smith said yesterday. "I'd still have a job."

The police board found Smith guilty Oct. 17 and recommended that he be terminated.

Smith, who says he has a heart condition, is scheduled to go before a separate police board next month on his application for a disability pension.

"This whole year has been devastating for me and Amy," said Smith. "We want to get this over and done with, but we also want to see that justice is served. We're going to stay in Howard County to fight me being fired, but once it's over, we're getting out of here.

"There're just too many bad memories in Howard County."

Pub Date: 10/23/97

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