US cop gets $1.65 million for racial bias
Indo-Asian News Service
New York, Sep 19 (IANS) An India-born former police officer
in Washington has won $1.65 million in an out-of-court settlement
in his racial bias lawsuit in which he claimed he was called
a "sandnigger" by a superior, received racially
explicit voicemails and was dispatched alone to confront an
In his suit, Navin Sharma, 52, who worked for the police department
in Vancouver city in the US for nine years, said he was subjected
to seven years of racial harassment, which began when he testified
against senior members of the department in a 1998 internal
With court mediation, the suit was settled earlier this month
and is said to be the largest single-plaintiff work-related
payout in Washington state, India-West has reported.
Sharma's first racial discrimination suit in 2000 against
the department was settled for $287,000 and with a clause
saying he could remain at his job for the next four years.
Yet, he continued to be the target of racially-motivated incidents
and was fired in 2006 when the four-year clause expired.
He was fired for cutting and pasting information into reports,
a practice allegedly used by other officers on the force,
who were not disciplined.
"In my 16 years as a law enforcement officer, I have
never seen an agency go after an officer so zealously, with
such complete disregard to his civil rights as I have in this
case against officer Sharma," said Corporal Stephen Pfuhl
in an affidavit.
He added that other officers on the force had committed "far
more egregious acts" than Sharma's report errors, but
were not disciplined.
Sharma is a graduate of St. Xavier's in Mumbai, and has master's
degrees in geological and petroleum engineering. After working
for several years in the oilfields of Alaska, he joined the
Vancouver police department in 1997, the only Indian American
to have served it.
A year later, he was asked to testify in an internal affairs
investigation against two officers who "allegedly misbehaved
during a domestic violence prevention-training programme".
"I told the truth as I saw it," Sharma was quoted
as saying by India-West. "The cops were not happy and
a whole vendetta began against me."
He added that he was largely unaware of the retaliation initially,
until a fellow officer told him of the conspiracy against
him and claimed the police were "going to teach me a
lesson on the streets".
Sharma said harassment included his SWAT uniform being stolen
from his locker, a satirical recording of a man with an Indian
accent repeatedly played over the 911 dispatch system, and
several occasions when officers failed to back him up on patrol
About the settlement this month, Sharma said: "The monetary
part was measured, but more importantly, my credibility was
returned to me."
He now works as an emergency room nurse in the Providence
Portland Medical Centre in Oregon.
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