A white police officer agreed to settle his racial discrimination lawsuit, which alleged that he was a victim of racial bullying at work after discovering that he’s part Black.
Hastings, Michigan approved a $65,000 payment to Officer Cleon Brown on July 23, in a mediated settlement in which neither side was considered the prevailing party, MLive reported on Tuesday.
“Suffice it to say that the process to resolve these matters is less than perfect, so the outcome of the process is less than ideal,” City Manager Jeff Mansfield said. “But the City Council agreed that entering into this mediated settlement agreement would allow the city to focus its efforts and resources on more productive endeavors in the days ahead.”
Brown, who looks white, discovered his African roots after taking an Ancestry.com test that revealed he’s 18 to 33 percent sub-Saharan African. Taunting from coworkers began soon after he shared the results.
In one instance, someone put a Black Santa Clause figurine with “18%” written on its white beard in Brown’s Christmas stocking. At other times, officers raised their fists and said “Black Lives Matter” to Brown. Even the police chief joined in, calling him “Kunte,” a reference to the African man brought to America as a slave in Alex Haley’s novel Roots.
Brown filed a federal lawsuit in 2017, naming several officials, including the city manager and police chief, as defendants. It accused officials and police officers of intentional infliction of emotional distress. The lawsuit also claimed that, given the mistreatment, Officer Brown would probably not get “adequate back up in the event of an emergency.”
The city pushed back, accusing Brown of initiating the problem by joking about the DNA test results. Officials also rejected Brown’s claim that he’s a protected minority.
Under the settlement, Brown will be on paid administrative leave through Oct. 31 when he will resign, MLive reported.