By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
ABERDEEN – A federal race discrimination lawsuit was settled Monday just before a federal jury was seated to try it, documents show.
Three current and one former West Point police officer and the city’s Board of Selectmen came to terms in what the plaintiffs’ attorney, Jim Waide of Tupelo, termed “the most flagrant example of race discrimination by a black majority governmental body I have ever seen.”
Terms of the settlement were confidential, although city records later may show the financial cost.
Both sides will share in jury costs, U.S. District Judge Sharion Aycock ordered.
Suing the city in 2010 were former Capt. Romelle Matthews, and officers Tim Campbell, Jeremy Dubois and Jessie Anderson.
Waide said Matthews was fired and the others harassed because of their loyalty to fired former Chief Steve Bingham, who lost his job shortly after a black majority board took office.
Campbell, Dubois and Bingham are white. Matthews and Anderson are black.
Their lawsuit claimed Matthews was fired because he filed an EEOC complaint, and that Campbell and Dubois were denied promotions because they are white.
Waide said Anderson was transferred out of the narcotics unit because he opposed a race-based arrest policy.
The city denied allegations made by the plaintiffs and claimed they failed to use various appeal avenues prior to filing suit.
In its answer to the lawsuit, the city also claimed it possessed immunity against lawsuits and that all employment actions made about the plaintiffs were non-discriminatory.