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3rd Black Officer Files Racial Bias Claim

September 10, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

A third black police officer who gave key testimony in last year's federal lawsuit alleging racial discrimination in the Glendale Police Department has filed his own racial discrimination claim against the city.

Justus Knight Jr., 25, a six-year veteran of the police force, filed a $3-million claim against the City of Glendale last Friday. The claim alleges that Knight was the victim of repeated racial harassment.

"There is overwhelming evidence of a pattern of harassment, racial taunting and other uncomfortable situations that occurred that make working in Glendale as a black police officer untolerable," said Knight's attorney, Carl E. Douglas.

Knight was one of three black officers who provided key testimony during a federal trial last year that found the Glendale Police Department had discriminated against Latino Officer Ricardo L. Jauregui. The two other black officers have also filed racial claims against Glendale this year.

Last October, U. S. District Judge Dickran Tevrizian Jr. determined that Jauregui had been passed over for promotion in favor of less-qualified Anglo officers. The judge ordered that Jauregui be promoted to the rank of sergeant with back pay retroactive to February, 1985. Glendale officials are appealing that decision.

Tevrizian also ordered the city to hire an outside expert to investigate racially derogatory cartoons and flyers circulated in the Police Department and submitted as evidence in Jauregui's trial. Los Angeles attorney Herman Sillas is conducting that investigation.

Knight has been the victim of racial harassment and discrimination since joining the force, Douglas said.

"And, after he returned from the trial, the harassment he was experiencing had heightened," Douglas said.

Knight is claiming that the city intentionally inflicted emotional distress on him, defamed him, invaded his privacy and violated his civil rights.

In fact, his attorney said, Knight has taken an unpaid sick leave since June 11 because of unspecified emotional distress.

Glendale City Atty. Frank Manzano scoffed at Knight's allegations.

"It's entirely ridiculous he would claim such a thing because the city has never discriminated against anyone," Manzano said. "We will deny everything he has alleged."

A lawsuit will be filed against Glendale if city officials deny the claim, Douglas said.

In March, Officer Ronald Jenkins, a seven-year veteran of the police force and first black officer hired in Glendale, filed a $2.2-million lawsuit against the city that claims he was being punished in retaliation for his testimony in the federal trial.

$5-Million Claim

In June, Officer Siegfried Dale Faucette, also a seven-year veteran of the force and a witness in the federal trial, filed a $5-million claim alleging he was wrongfully fired by the department after his involvement in an off-duty fight with a hospital security guard in Hollywood.

Faucette punched a security guard at Hollywood Presbyterian medical Center during a parking dispute Jan. 30 after Faucette, seeking medical care for his infant daughter, parked in an emergency zone designated for ambulances, said Cecil W. Marr, one of Faucette's attorneys.

Marr called the firing overly harsh and said it might be in retaliation for his testimony. Marr is appealing that decision before the Glendale Civil Service Commission.

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