Sgt. Cleon Brown, a 19-year-veteran of the Hastings Police Department, has filed a lawsuit contending his civil rights were violated by racial discrimination when he revealed an Ancestry.com DNA test said he is 18 percent African.
The city, Police Chief Jeff Pratt, Deputy Chief Dale Boulter, Sgt. Kris Miller and City Manager Jeff Mansfield were named in the federal lawsuit. The amount named in the suit is in excess of $500,000. The lawsuit has brought a response from the city (see related story).
Brown’s Attorney Karie Boylan, from Boylan Law in Rochester, said Tuesday they have not received the document. “We are waiting for their response to our complaint. I asked for them to come to the table to find a resolution…to find remedies and a consent agreement; more training; put remediation rules in place, make the responsible people pay for what they did, so fences can be mended, to make the department the best it can be, so Cleon can support himself working in his profession.”
After Brown filed the suit, the defendants retaliated by un-friending him on Facebook and taking him off the official Hastings website, Boylan said. “When they used to have friendly banter when they passed in the halls, now they don’t talk to him,” she said. “Mansfield now doesn’t even acknowledge him.
“Cleon wasn’t allowed to play in the April 26 basketball game, something he has done for years. He was told he couldn’t attend sergeant’s school, then they said he could, but it had to be on off-duty time without pay, then they changed policies so he wouldn’t have time to do it, so he would fail. Chief Pratt wanted him to resign,” she said.
“I want to make abundantly clear this has to do with the main defendants,” Boylan said. “Eighty percent of the staff, the other officers and union rep all support him, making it tolerable to keep working. It is just the people in charge, the others are fine.” Brown is five years away from retiring, he needs to keep working, she added.
Brown’s health has suffered from the stress of the alleged harassment and retaliation, she said. “He sleeps in an upright position because of acid stomach. He has sores in his mouth from the acid.”
Boylan said when they get the city’s response, it will be followed by “four to six months of dealing with legal issues and then go to regular court.”