Jury Gets Race-Bias Trial Today

Richmond cops claim harassment by police chief.

           A jury begins deliberations in Martinez today in a race-bias trial

against Richmond's police chief, a former deputy chief and the city after

attorneys wrapped up closing arguments and rebuttals this afternoon,

according to a defense attorney.

           The civil suit brought against the city by seven of the Richmond

Police Department's top-ranking African American officers in 2007 has played

out in Contra Costa County Superior Court over the past three months.

           In the lawsuit, Lt. Michael Booker, Lt. Cleveland Brown, Lt.

Arnold Threets, Capt. Eugene McBride, Lt. Shawn Pickett, Lt. Michael Booker,

Lt. Johan Simon and Sgt. James Jenkins allege that they faced racial

harassment and discrimination from police Chief Chris Magnus and his former

second-in-command, Lori Ritter, both of whom are white.

           The plaintiffs also allege that Magnus and Ritter retaliated

against them after they objected to the discrimination.

           During the trial, the plaintiffs testified about several incidents

in which Magnus and Ritter allegedly made racist comments and gestures and

created a racially hostile workplace, in addition to overlooking the officers

when it came time for promotions and transferring some plaintiffs to less

desirable posts.

           The officers say that the city also bears responsibility, since

city officials did nothing to step in and stop the alleged harassment.

           Magnus, Ritter and city officials have staunchly denied the

allegations and defense attorneys during the trial characterized the lawsuit

as an opportunity to oust a progressive police chief who wanted to change the

status quo within the department.

           Defense attorneys said the plaintiffs felt threatened by those

changes and resisted the new chief almost from the beginning.

           Jury deliberations are expected to continue next week, defense

attorney Geoff Spellberg said.

-- Bay City News



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