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Lake City FL PD: Another African American Cop - Another Federal Law Suit

LAKE CITY, FL – Today, in the federal district court in Jacksonville, another African American Lake City police officer is filing a federal law suit (the suit) against the city of Lake City. This time it is former LCPD Captain Robert Smith, who was on April 18, 2012, given a "Right To Sue" letter by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Captain Smith wasted no time.

The suit claims that former Capt. Robert Smith (Capt. Smith) is a member of a protected class due to his race, African American, and that because he reported discrimination against himself and others he was the victim of retaliation.


Click here to read the complaint

The suit presents the following

Capt. Smith was hired in October 2010 to be the second in command behind LCPD Chief, Argatha Gilmore. Chief Gilmore was his boss. Chief Gilmore is black.

On September 23 2011, three Lake City police officers were shot in an altercation outside of a residence in the City.

After the officers were shot, Chief Gilmore left the scene [she rode with the officers to the hospital] for two and a half hours. The shoot out continued while she was away from the scene. Three days later during a command staff meeting, Capt. Smith asked the Chief why she left the scene.

After another command staff meeting, which was called the following day by City Manager Wendell Johnson, Chief Gilmore sent Capt. Smith to be evaluated by a psychologist. City Manager Wendell Johnson is white.

Capt. Smith contacted former LCPD Capt. Rudolph Davis for the name of his attorney. Capt. Davis has a race based discrimination law suit against Lake City in Federal Court. Rudolph Davis is black.

After City Manager Johnson learned that Capt. Smith was subpoenaed by Capt. Davis, CM Johnson called him into his office and questioned him about his "expected forthcoming disposition testimony."  At that time Capt. Smith complained about his discriminatory treatment.

Then Capt. Smith was advised by another Lake City police officer that LCPD Capt. John Blanchard was "out to get" him. On the same day the Chief e mailed Capt. Smith instructing him to advise her of his unfair treatment.

Two days later, Capt. Smith wrote a letter to the Chief and said that he was "being targeted for unfair treatment and retaliated against."

On November 15, 2011, Capt. Smith was put on administrative leave while the City investigated Capt. Smith's charges.

A month later, Capt. Smith was called into the office of the City Manager and met with the Chief and the head of HR. At that time Capt. Smith was advised that he was under investigation for "truthfulness."

On December 14, 2011, Capt. Smith filed his EEOC complaint against the City.

The next day, after City Manager's request, Chief Gilmore turned over the Smith investigation to the Internal Affairs Division of the Gainesville Police Department.

The City did not advise Capt. Smith that he was being investigated by the Gainesville Police Department.

On December 25, 2011, City Manager Johnson released documents obtained during the City's ongoing investigation of Capt. Smith to the Lake City Reporter, Lake City's print newspaper.

Lake City police department regulations require that a departmental investigation must be completed within 45 days. This can be extended for cause.

After the city retroactively extended the investigation, Capt. Smith advised the Gainesville Police Department: I believe this investigation initiated against me was, and is, nothing more than a vindictive, malicious act of retaliation brought about because I testified against Chief Argatha Gilmore, and Mr. Wendell Johnson in a Title VII Civil Rights judicial proceeding.”

Capt. Smith believing that the City had not extended the investigation within the required time frame, wrote, “Therefore, I respectfully request that all activity associated with this investigation stop immediately.”

On April 24, 2012 chief Gilmore fired Capt. Robert Smith for "the contrived and pretextual reason of his failure to follow a direct order."

Questions before the court

Did Lake City unlawfully retaliate against Capt. Smith because of his race?

Did Lake City unlawfully retaliate against Capt. Smith because of unlawful employment practices?

Was Capt. Smith the victim of whistleblower retaliation because he reported wrongdoing to persons outside of his normal chain of command?

Epilogue

This is a federal lawsuit. This is the real deal.

America's federal courts are still respected worldwide as a place where justice can be found.

Unlike the local circuit courts in Florida where many times motion hearings are held in secret, court schedules are nonexistent except for the chosen few and the public is intentionally kept in the dark to perpetuate a system of good ol' boy backslapping, glad-handing and back room dealing, the federal courts are in another universe.

Former LCPD Capt. Smith and the others with federal cases against Lake City will be judged by a jury of their peers and during that process, so will the City of Lake City. 

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