Former police Chief Derrick Foxworth has filed a notice of intent to sue the city, claiming he was unfairly demoted and reprimanded because he's a Black man who was in a relationship with a White woman.
Foxworth — who now holds the rank of commander — also claims that city officials were aware of his relationship with the police clerk, which occurred earlier in his career.
In a letter from his attorney to the city, Foxworth argues that his demotion in June was improper because the city's own investigation cleared him of all allegations except a minor complaint that he shared his personal opinion by e-mail with his then-girlfriend about the handling of an internal inquiry into sexual conduct by the police Special Emergency Reaction Team.
"The reason given for his removal was that he did not meet the 'high standards' expected of a chief of police," Foxworth's lawyer, Lawrence Matasar, wrote in a two-page letter to the city. "However we do not believe that the reason given was the actual reason for removal."
Foxworth claims he did nothing wrong because there is no city rule that prohibits personal relationships with co-workers and that other senior officials have had romantic relationships with co-workers and were never disciplined.
The former chief is seeking $1 million in damages for emotional distress and harm to his reputation and career, along with about $250,000 to cover his reduced pay and pension and $60,000 for attorney fees so far.
Mayor Tom Potter, a former police chief, issued a brief statement.
"I regret that Derrick Foxworth has indicated he may pursue a legal action against the city," the mayor said. "If he proceeds with a lawsuit, then the city is prepared to vigorously defend itself against any allegation that he was treated unfairly or inappropriately. Until then, I cannot comment on specifics."
Foxworth returned to work in July as commander of the police bureau's southeast precinct. He had been on paid administrative leave since April during the investigation prompted by allegations by desk clerk Angela Oswalt.
Her attorney, Vic Calzaretta, first brought the allegations directly to the mayor and then outlined them in two legal notices filed with the city that contained excerpts of sexually explicit e-mails from Foxworth to Oswalt.
The city cleared Foxworth of seven of eight allegations Oswalt made against him.
Potter demoted Foxworth to captain, citing a "serious lapse in judgment" for his relationship with Oswalt and the explicit e-mails. Foxworth was Oswalt's precinct commander at the time of the relationship.
When Potter named Rosie Sizer chief, she quickly promoted Foxworth to commander.
— The Associated Press