EEOC Sees Possible Discrimination In Officer’s Firing
AP, May 26
MILWAUKEE — A police officer shown on videotape roughly restraining a man in custody may have been subject to racial discrimination when he was fired, a federal agency has determined.
There is “reasonable cause” to believe Robert Henry, who is white, suffered discrimination when he was discharged while nonwhite officers accused of similar infractions weren’t fired, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said in a determination earlier this month.
Henry was fired by then-Police Chief Arthur Jones, but he was reinstated later by the Fire and Police Commission.
He applied for disability on grounds that the stress he suffered left him unable to do his job. Last June, he was awarded lifetime disability, receiving 75 percent of his salary for 29 years and a $23,300 bonus, or about $40,000 a year.
The EEOC document is not an order but could prompt the city to attempt conciliation with Henry.
Henry’s lawyer, William Rettko, said his client was unfairly fired and wants money as compensation. He said Henry moved to southern Florida because of threats.
“His life has been ruined, and his career has been trashed,” Rettko said.
In the videotape made March 20, 2002, disorderly conduct suspect Billy Miles is shown gesturing toward Henry, a booking officer in a district police station.
After Miles makes several gestures, Henry walks toward him, grabs him around the neck and wrestles him to the table. Several officers separated the men. Afterward, Henry flexes his arm and pats his biceps.
Assistant City Attorney Leonard Tokus said it would be up to Police Chief Nannette Hegerty to decide whether to enter into talks with Henry.
If the city rejects conciliation, Tokus said, the EEOC might take up the case, or it could give Henry the right to sue.