Two Black men, Moses Iverson and Darren Kendall have filed a federal lawsuit against the city of Columbus claiming they were not offered a spot in the police training academy because of the color of their skin, according to The Columbus Dispatch.
Last month, the city of Columbus agreed on a settlement that paid $5.75 million to participants who were injured during the George Floyd protests in 2020. Now, the city has another lawsuit on its hands.
Both Iverson and Kendall applied to be officers in the Columbus Police Department in April 2019, but neither of them was offered a spot in the 134th recruit class. The lawsuit asserts that White men and women with more checkered pasts were offered spots over the two Black men. The main reason is their race.
From The Columbus Dispatch:
“We can state the City does not engage in or tolerate discriminatory hiring practices,” the department said.
According to the lawsuit, both Kendall and Iverson scored in the top tier of candidates on a written test and participated in oral board interviews, as well as polygraph examinations.
Both men received letters from the city in April 2020, informing them that their applications had been rejected. The letters did not contain specific information as to why they were rejected, but according to the lawsuit, both men reached out and asked.
The lawsuit said Iverson was told he was rejected because of failing to pay back taxes and having some accounts being disputed while in collections, as well as a previous accusation of an inappropriate workplace comment. The victim in that incident had written Iverson a letter of recommendation, the lawsuit said.
Kendall was told he was rejected because he had held several jobs over the last few years and had resigned in lieu of being fired from a job as a refuse collector with the city of Columbus for several “minor traffic accidents,” the lawsuit said.
“These reasons were a pretext for race discrimination. These same, similar, or far more-egregious issues did not stop the city from hiring Caucasian applicants who, quite frankly, have no business being a police officer,” the lawsuit said.
As you would imagine, it can be hard to prove racial discrimination in a lot of cases because you cannot prove what a person is thinking unless they say it aloud.
But, the lawsuit does not pull any punches and doesn’t shy away from using the names of police officers and pointing out some of the alleged questionable behavior of officers who were accepted into the police academy.
More from The Columbus Dispatch:
In the lawsuit, six examples are given of issues involving white men and one white woman who were accepted into the same class Kendall and Iverson had applied to join.
The background information for those candidates included admitting to paying prostitutes for sex, statutory rape, engaging in sexual activity while on the job, use of illegal drugs, including cocaine, heroin and MDMA, driving while under the influence, stealing money from an employer and admitting to selling drugs.
“When a police department hires Caucasians who have, as one applicant was described, ‘consistently showed a pattern of theft from places of work, drug usage, illegal sexual acts, and altercations with coworkers or supervisors,’ over two qualified African Americans, then there is something wrong,” the lawsuit said.
Kendall and Iverson sued the city of Columbus, as well as former Safety Director Ned Pettus. The lawsuit also names William Mark Gramlich, who Pettus previously told The Dispatch provided him summaries of candidates to decide on who to offer positions at the academy.
The lawsuit also names police officers Jack Adkins, Dan Edelsberg, Nathan Wilson and David Hamon and Department of Public Safety Human Resources employee Mykhaylo “Mike” Rusetsky, all of whom participated in one or both of the oral board interviews for Kendall and Iverson. All of the men are white.
Of the 55 people who were accepted into the 134th recruit class at the James G. Jackson Columbus Police Academy, 39 of them were White and eight were Black, according to the Columbus Dispatch.
Not good numbers if you’re trying to improve diversity. Even though the city has claimed diversity is improving in recent classes.
Per the story from the Columbus Dispatch, Kendall and Iverson originally filed their complaints with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and were told they could sue.
They wasted no time doing that.