Former officers sue Midland over culture of discrimination within police department

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The City of Midland is facing a lawsuit that alleges a culture of harassment and discrimination toward black employees in the police department, the Midland Reporter-Telegram reported.

The suit, filed Jan. 26 by former officers Demetrius Lee and Robb Wilson, names the city, Midland Police Chief Seth Herman, and former Lt. Kyle Sullivan, who retired last March, as defendants.

In May 2018 Lee and Wilson, who are black, met with then-Mayor Jerry Morales, then-city councilman John Love and city prosecutors to discuss their beliefs that they had been subjected to a hostile work environment due to their race.

They reported “various items of illegal and questionable conduct that had been occurring in the City of Midland Police Department, including racial discrimination and disparate treatment of officers, unfounded internal affairs investigations, and acts of retaliation,” the suit states.

Lee was charged with abuse of official capacity in August 2018 and claims in the lawsuit that the charge was brought in retaliation for his speaking out about racism within the department. The document states that, at the direction of Sullivan, Herman fabricated evidence that led to the charges against Lee, the newspaper reported.

Lee was suspended and later resigned during the investigation. The charge is still pending and awaiting a trial date, the Reporter-Telegram wrote.

Wilson alleges in the suit that he was denied promotion from parking enforcement officer to police officer due to his race.

“He was thus limited in his pay and opportunity for advancement, although other individuals, with lesser qualifications, were hired by and advanced within the Midland Police Department,” the suit states.

The newspaper reported that it’s unclear from the lawsuit if Wilson resigned or was fired.

A city spokeswoman told the Reporter-Telegram it is city policy not to comment on pending litigation.

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