LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (AP) – A federal judge on Wednesday dismissed the Little Rock Police Chief’s lawsuit against the local police union and several current and former officers who accused them of conspiring to force him to quit his job.
U.S. District Judge Jay Moody allowed the motion to dismiss the lawsuit filed last year by Chief Keith Humphrey, which was part of an ongoing public fight within the ministry centered on its response to the fatal shooting in 2019 of a black motorist by a white officer.
Humphrey, who is black, had argued that officers and the union conspired to curtail his First Amendment rights by filing lawsuits against him and other actions.
Moody, however, said comments he made about his policing philosophy that he claimed the union and the officers who retaliated against him were not constitutionally protected because he had made them when he was a chef in Norman, Oklahoma.
Humphrey, who was hired in 2019, has clashed with the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police and has been sued by several current and former officers over promotions, disciplinary matters and other issues.
“My clients are obviously happy with the decision to dismiss the chief’s lawsuit, but there are still concerns that the city has allowed the chief to continue his campaign of retaliation and discrimination for so long,” said Tim Steadman, the lawyer for several of the officers.
An attorney for Humphrey said the chief would weigh his options, but said he believed it was likely the lawsuit would be re-filed and include the city as a defendant.
Humphrey “firmly maintains his position that the lawsuits are unfounded, that they are harassing, that they are part of a plot to lose his job and hurt him professionally, and to thwart the reforms he tries to bring and has made, “said attorney Mike Laux.
Defendants in the dismissed trial included Charles Starks, the white officer Humphrey fired for the Bradley Blackshire shooting. Starks was later reinstated by a judge but he later submitted his resignation. State Court of Appeals overturned Starks’ reinstatement order last week.
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