Detroit police officer sues department for discrimination

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A federal lawsuit filed against the city of Detroit and its police department allege civil rights violations against an African-American officer.

He also claims he worked in a racially hostile environment. Now the ACLU is suing the Detroit Police department for racial discrimination.

"The Detroit Police department has serious racial problems," said Officer Johnny Strickland. "If I, as a veteran police officer, can so easily become the victim of police misconduct, then the ordinary black person just doesn't have a chance."

According to the ACLU, Strickland, a nearly 12-year veteran of the Detroit police department, who is African-American, was off-duty but entered a crime scene in Detroit in January of 2017.   

He was then handcuffed so tight, to the point of causing injury, even after he identified himself as a police officer. When he complained, Strickland was investigated.  

"You don't necessarily get into his face start screaming profanities at him, calling him stupid and dumb and idiot, which seems to be these days, the way in which black people are referred to," said Mark Fancher, ACLU attorney.

This incident allegedly occurred just 10 days after a report by the Committee on Race Equality found that there was "widespread and pervasive discrimination" against officers of color.  And yet, the ACLU says Chief James Craig allegedly did nothing.  What should he have done? 

"I am saying this in particular to you supervisory white officers, the allegations made in this report are directed at you, and I will be watching you," Fancher said.

The Detroit Police Department said they do not comment on pending litigation.

Yet a spokesperson for the police department said that CORE is still active, but was temporarily suspended to revamp guidelines.

"Leadership was provided with notice, of the fact that they had a serious racial problem within the police department," Fancher said. "The response of police leadership to this notice was to say we don't believe it."

Officer Strickland is still on the force and his attorney didn't rule out that other officers could come forward with similar allegations in the future.