DURHAM: Asst. police chief sues city over racial discrimination - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Durham assistant police chief sues city over racial discrimination

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Assistant Police Chief Winslow Forbes says Chief Jose Lopez overlooked black officers for promotions based on race. Assistant Police Chief Winslow Forbes says Chief Jose Lopez overlooked black officers for promotions based on race.
DURHAM, N.C. -

The attorney for an assistant chief of police in Durham has filed a lawsuit against the City of Durham, Chief Jose Lopez and City Manager Tom Bonfield.

The lawsuit, filed on Tuesday, alleges that Lopez overlooked officers for promotions based on race, specifically Assistant Police Chief Winslow Forbes, who had been with the police department since 1988.

In August 2013, Forbes filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission against the City of Durham accusing Chief Jose Lopez of racially discriminatory comments and actions.

Caitlyn Thomson, an attorney for Forbes, said the complaint was filed "to rectify a situation that affects the entire city of Durham.

Forbes said Lopez became "defensive and angry" when Forbes confronted him about losing out on a promotion in 2012 to a white applicant. The lawsuit says Forbes also told Lopez that "many black officers has a perception of discrimination."

Forbes claims Lopez retaliated by denying him another promotion to deputy chief in 2013 even though Forbes "was the only remaining candidate for promotion to deputy chief based on the review panel's assessments."

"The usual and customary practice for the police department has been to promote the next individual on the list of qualified applicants from the review panel," the lawsuit says.

Forbes also claims that in 2011 a female black lieutenant was not be a good candidate for promotion to captain "because of her speech." In the filed complaint, her speech was characterized as "African-American vernacular English."

The lawsuit says that rather than promoting the black female lieutenant, Lopez "promoted a white male lieutenant. The White male lieutenant had been ranked below the cut-off by the review panel."

The lawsuit says the male lieutenant was a watch commander.

The lawsuit asks that Forbes be paid damages for "declaratory and injunctive relief, back wages and benefits, promotion or front pay, compensatory damages, attorney's fees, costs, and interest as may be allowed by law."

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