A city on Maryland’s Eastern Shore has agreed to pay $650,000 to resolve racial discrimination claims made by a former police chief and another black officer.
Former Pocomoke City Police Chief Kelvin Sewell accepted a $450,000 settlement offer, a court filing Wednesday said. The city agreed to pay $200,000 to former Police Lt. Lynell Green.
The settlement agreement doesn’t resolve a third former officer’s claims against the city.
A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which represents the three black officers, said the city also agreed to adopt new policies, procedures and training regarding discrimination. Those changes are spelled out in a consent decree that the city and officers will ask the federal court to approve and enforce.
A federal suit, filed in 2016, says the three black officers were mocked, threatened, falsely accused of misconduct and retaliated against because of their race.
Two attorneys for the city didn’t immediately respond to a call seeking comment.
Savage said he endured a hostile work environment throughout his four years with the police department. Fellow members of a Worcester County narcotics task force frequently used racial slurs in his presence, placed a fake food stamp bearing the image of President Barack Obama in Savage’s desk drawer, and placed a bloody deer’s tail on his car windshield, the lawsuit said.
Sewell, the city’s first black police chief of Pocomoke City, said he was fired because he refused to fire Savage.
Green said fellow officers and city officials repeatedly retaliated against him for supporting Savage.
In 2016, the U.S. Justice Department intervened in the officers’ case to file its own related claims against the city, Worcester County’s sheriff and the state of Maryland. The federal government’s claims are still pending.
Pocomoke City, which calls itself “The Friendliest Town on the Eastern Shore,” has a population of roughly 4,000, with nearly equal percentages of black and white residents.
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