St. Louis Post-Dispatch Sues St. Louis Police for Withholding Public Records


ST. LOUIS, Mo. – A St. Louis police detective is suing the city, alleging he was subjected to discrimination and harassment after reporting to internal affairs that a white officer assaulted an African American suspect.

The plaintiff, Brandon J. Clark, describes himself in the lawsuit as a 10-year police officer for the city of St. Louis. For the past six years, he served in the detective’s bureau, where he says there were only three African American officers out of 26.

The city has not responded to the lawsuit filed on May 7 in St. Louis Circuit Court. The city said on Sunday it does not comment on pending litigation.

According to the lawsuit, Clark, in November 2020, filed an internal affairs complaint alleging racial discrimination by a white officer against a Black suspect.

“Plaintiff observed a white police officer assaulting a Black suspect which he considered to be motivated by the suspect’s race and color; he filed an internal affairs complaint in November of 2020 regarding the incident white officer assaulting a black suspect,” the lawsuit states.

Disciplinary action was allegedly taken against the officer in the internal affairs complaint soon after it was filed. Other officers were disciplined in May 2023, according to the lawsuit.

Following those disciplinary actions, Clark said he was subjected to several instances of discrimination and harassment.

Those included singling him out for wearing cargo shorts although others were not, a printout suggesting he had poor hygiene placed on his computer, and a fellow detective loudly stating, “You the only snitch I know back here. How many people jobs have you took?”.

Following those incidents, Clark allegedly reported the hostility to his supervisors. On the day two detectives received a misconduct report regarding their actions, a container of chocolate muffins was placed on Clark’s desk, according to the lawsuit.

“A muffin is slang for vagina,” the lawsuit states. “Chocolate muffins were particularly offensive to plaintiff due to my race.”

A camera on the wall was allegedly pointed directly at Clark’s desk. Another detective arrived at work, told Clark everyone was calling him about the camera, and then took it down.

“He climbed onto the table, removed the camera, and told Plaintiff ‘We were just (expletive) with you.’ After the camera was removed, a photo of the camera was taped to the wall,” the lawsuit states.

Clark alleges he was ordered to trim his beard, although he had a medical exemption due to a skin condition and had the same length for three years. When he did trim his beard, another detective suggested he was a coward for doing so.

Clark filed a grievance against managers and co-workers regarding the harassment, which was not acted on promptly, the lawsuit states. In August, he filed a charge of discrimination against the city with the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission and the Missouri Commission on Human Rights, citing a hostile work environment.

“After Plaintiff filed the charge of discrimination his coworkers harassed him including, but not limited to avoiding him and giving him the silent treatment, placing a surveillance camera above his desk, calling him derogatory names such as ‘snitch’ and ‘(expletive)’ in the presence of fellow officers, thereby undermining his professional reputation and position,” the lawsuit states.

Clark alleges Police Chief Robert Tracy in October 2023 reviewed his grievance complaint and that the matter had been resolved. However, no action was taken, and the harassment continued, according to the lawsuit.

In December 2023, Clark filed another internal grievance because of the alleged harassment and discrimination. He also sought a transfer to a different department, which he was granted.

Clark requests a trial by jury and damages of more than $25,000. A trial date has not been set.

“The conditions were so unbearable that a reasonable person would not continue to work there,” the lawsuit states. “Plaintiff sought a transfer to a different department because of the discrimination and retaliation he suffered.”

WebReadyTM Powered by WireReady® NSI