White Cop Who Claimed Racial Bias Gets Payout

The $65K is much less than Michigan's Cleon Brown wanted
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 1, 2018 11:59 AM CDT
White Cop Who Claimed Racial Bias Gets Payout
Cleon Brown said the taunts started after a DNA test revealed his African ancestry.   (Getty Images/utah778)

A white Michigan police officer who accused fellow cops of "straight-up racism" will receive a $65,000 settlement, though he's not exactly pleased. Sgt. Cleon Brown, a 19-year veteran with the Hastings Police Department, initially demanded $500,000 from the city in a lawsuit claiming he was subject to taunts beginning in 2016 when a genetic test revealed he was 18% to 33% "sub-Saharan African," reports MLive. The suit claimed his police chief referred to Brown as "Kunta," an African slave character from Alex Haley's Roots: The Saga of an American Family. Other officers stopped talking to Brown, or would whisper "Black Lives Matter" and pump their fists in his presence, while a black Santa head with "18%" written on its beard appeared in Brown's Christmas stocking, according to the suit.

"It was almost like a disgraced type of reaction that I got from them like, 'Why are you proud of this type of thing?'" the US Army veteran told WDIV when the suit was filed last May. The city disputed his account at the time, arguing Brown "specifically went to other officers, raised the topic [of his DNA test], joked about it, and engaged in typical racial stereotypes," reports CNN. Per WWMT, the city's manager now says it viewed the lawsuit as without merit but found the settlement was more favorable than "the cost and disruptive effect of defending the case." Brown's lawyer says his client is disappointed with the outcome—which allows him to remain on paid administrative leave until the end of October, when he'll resign—but couldn't afford to continue litigation. Per CNN, he plans to leave the city to find work. (More Michigan stories.)

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