The claims of two current and one former Los Angeles Airport police officers who allege they were discriminated against because they are black will remain part of one case for now despite a defense assertion that one plaintiff’s claims have nothing to do with the others, a judge ruled Tuesday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Richard Burdge told lawyer Todd Picker, who is representing the city of Los Angeles, that a motion to sever the claims can be made later, but not at this stage of the proceedings.
Plaintiffs Devin Staten, Damien Jackson and David Rodgers allege in their suit filed in April 2018 that they were the victims of racial discrimination and retaliation. According to Picker’s court papers, the similarity between their allegations stops there.
“Staten was fired because he was a member of a criminal motorcycle gang called `The Chosen Few,”’ Picker wrote in his court papers. Staten, 39, acknowledged being a member of the Antelope Valley chapter of the biker group, according to Picker’s court papers.
Unlike Staten, Jackson, 44, and Rodgers, 37, still work for the department and were not disciplined or demoted, according to Picker’s court papers.
But according to the plaintiffs’ court filings, all three plaintiffs have similar stories of discrimination and retaliation.
“These actions gave each plaintiff the message that his race, specifically being black, was unwelcome in the workplace,” the plaintiffs’ court papers state.
Each man was denied special assignments, promotions within the department and subjected to false internal affairs investigations, according to their court papers.
The plaintiffs allege that Sgt. Jeff Shelton, a supervisor, wrote on his Facebook account that black officers are not punished because of their race, and he posted the comment, “I’m tired of President Obama’s racist comments getting officers killed.”
Another sergeant who also was a supervisor referred to Obama as “that N-word O’Bama (sic), I hope he dies,” according to the plaintiff’s court papers.
Both Shelton and the other sergeant are white, the plaintiffs’ court papers state.
Jackson claims he was called a Black Panther, Malcolm X and other derogatory terms, according to the court documents.
Staten and his fellow members of the Chosen Few do charitable work, but some members of the department believed that black men riding motorcycles must be gang members simply because of their race, the plaintiffs’ court paper state.