APD detective suing City, former assistant chief for alleged racial discrimination

Austin

AUSTIN (KXAN) — An Austin Police Department detective is suing the City, alleging racial discrimination in the department.

According to the lawsuit, Lamarcus Wells, who has worked for APD since 2007, alleges that he and other African-American APD employees were routinely passed over or rejected from advancing in positions.

The lawsuit states:

“The City of Austin Police Department has a pattern and practice of discriminating against African-Americans, including Mr. Wells, through its policies or customs. Specifically, but not limited to, the City of Austin Police Department denies African-American employees transfers to highly desired, objectively prestigious positions in certain units.”

Wells claims that he was qualified for all positions he applied for over the years — at least 11 applications. He was finally approved for a position in January 2018.

The lawsuit also alleges that white applicants were given interview information that African-American applicants were not given.

In the lawsuit, Wells claims former Assistant Police Chief Justin Newsom called him and another officer “stupid f****** n******.” Newsom has previously been accused of making racist comments toward African-Americans. Earlier this month, an anonymous complaint was filed alleging that Newsom had made several comments the Wells lawsuit also touches upon.

Wells is suing for damages, attorneys’ fees, taxable costs of the court, pre-judgement and post-judgement interest. According to the lawsuit, Wells believes his career trajectory has been stunted due to discriminatory advancement practices.

In a statement on Friday, the City of Austin said:

The City takes such allegations very seriously. When the City Manager received the anonymous allegation complaints from the Office of Police Oversight, he immediately committed to hiring an independent 3rd party to investigate the matter. That investigator is on board and has started working. We will review this new lawsuit and respond appropriately.

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