In the year since Breonna Taylor was tragically killed by officers in the Louisville Metro Police Department, the law enforcement agency has been plagued with controversy after controversy. It doesn’t look like that’s going to change anytime soon, as an officer within the LMPD has filed a lawsuit alleging racial bias and discrimination within the department’s hiring process.
According to NBC News, Officer Philip Satterthwaite filed a lawsuit against the LMPD on Monday. Satterthwaite is a Black officer who has been part of the department since 2012. The lawsuit alleges that nepotism and the “buddy system” have resulted in Black officers not receiving promotions and special assignments that they are otherwise qualified for.
So essentially, the police department acts like every other organization where white people promote their buddies because “he’s just a good guy.” Whoever could have seen that coming?
“The nepotism within LMPD is longstanding, and it is a substantial contributing factor to depleting morale amongst those officers who know that they, regardless of their accomplishments and history of being great police officers, face a stacked deck each time they seek a promotion where others within department connections are also in the candidate pool,” the lawsuit said.
From NBC News:
According to the suit, Satterthwaite said he was rejected from positions at the department’s Crimes Against Children Unit and Robbery Unit in 2020 because he was scored unfairly during the hiring process, despite past positive performance reviews. Satterthwaite said he was also denied access to his interview files.
“Race plays a direct and indirect role in advancement opportunities at LMPD,” the lawsuit said. “Until the middle of the 2000's… Black officers simply did not make the rank of Sergeant.”
Satterthwaite was later chosen as the Diversity and Inclusion Officer, under then-Deputy Chief Lavita Chavous, to “focus on equal opportunity for advancement and openness within the department,” the lawsuit said.
Satterthwaite and Chavous worked together to try and address the racial equity problems that were present within the department. Their work together revealed that people were losing out on promotions because higher-ups were simply choosing their friends.
After Louisville Police Chief Erika Shields took over earlier this year, the suit alleges that Satterthwaite was removed from his position as diversity and inclusion officer, and instead was given the “window-dressing job” of recruiting Black employees.
I feel like it’d be hard to recruit people knowing damn well that the opportunities for career advancement are limited if you aren’t in the “good ol’ boys club.”
The lawsuit was filed by Sam Aguiar, the attorney who also represents the family of Breonna Taylor. The suit requests compensatory and punitive damages for Satterthwaite and that he is reinstated to his role as Diversity and Inclusion Officer.
“Everyone deserves to know that they will be promoted based upon their qualifications, rather than who they know,” Aguiar told NBC News. “Officer Satterthwaite was placed in a position to make this happen, only to be retaliated against.”