LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – The Little Rock police chief on Wednesday sued the local police union, two deputy chiefs and several officers, accusing them of conspiring to try to force him to quit his job.
The federal lawsuit of Chief Keith Humphrey is the latest round of a growing public brawl within the department centered around his response to the fatal shooting of a black motorist by a white officer last year.
Defendants include Charles Starks, the white officer Humphrey fired for Bradley Blackshire’s shooting. Starks was later reinstated by a judge, but he resigned in September.
The lawsuit accuses the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police and its executive committee of orchestrating a campaign against the boss that included lawsuits accusing him of retaliation against assistant chiefs who testified against him in Starks’ dismissal hearings. He also accuses the union, Starks and a local blogger of posting fake stories about him online.
“This is the right thing. … It’s not about Keith Humphrey, “the chief said at a press conference at a Little Rock church.” Don’t treat people like that. “
A Starks attorney did not have immediate comment on the lawsuit and the union did not immediately respond to messages. A lawyer from several officers cited in the lawsuit called it an attempt by the chief to silence his critics.
“It’s sad, unfortunate, unprecedented that the boss is suing his own employer and his own officers,” said attorney Chris Burks of the lawsuit, who also appointed a Little Rock human resources officer. as defendant.
The Fraternal Order of Police passed a resolution of the vote of no confidence on Humphrey in June, citing the lawsuits and complaints against him. Humphrey, who is black, said on Monday his lawsuit wasn’t about race, although he says the union treats him differently due to his race and police philosophy.
Humphrey was hired in 2019 by Mayor Frank Scott, who is the city’s first elected mayor by the people of the city. Humphrey told reporters that he hadn’t spoken to the mayor about his cause prior to his presentation, and a spokesperson said Scott had no comment on the lawsuit.
Humphrey shot Starks for the Blackshire shooting, despite the officer’s supervisors’ recommendations to stay on duty. In his resignation letter, Starks accused the boss of making his working conditions “intolerable” since he was reinstated.
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