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
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