Greensboro reaches $500,000 settlement in lawsuits involving several officers

Posted on: 3:39 pm, September 18, 2013, by , and , updated on: 11:00am, September 19, 2013

GREENSBORO, N.C. — The city of Greensboro reached a $500,000 settlement Wednesday afternoon in multiple lawsuits involving several officers who filed a series of federal lawsuits accusing the city of racial discrimination in the mid-2000s.

The terms of the settlement include a release of claims made against the city and a release of claims against individual defendants, including former Police Chief David Wray and former Greensboro City Council Member Trude Wade and others.

As a condition of the settlement, the city has not admitted liability in any of the cases. Mayor Perkins would not definitively say discrimination happened in the police department.

“We are not admitting fault,” Mayor Robbie Perkins said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

However, the city emphasized improvements in the police department since the cases first came forward.

“The police department has revised its promotional, investigative and disciplinary processes since 2011. In addition, the department has implemented over 200 of 226 specific recommendations offered in a 2008 management and staffing study completed by Carroll Buracker and Associates,” officials said in a press release.

The agreement does not resolve the former Greensboro police officers Charles Cherry and Joseph Pryor claims, the case involving Police Captain James Hinson and former Police Chief David Wray’s claim for attorney’s fees.

The city has already spent $2.3 million dollars in legal fees for these lawsuits.

Both Mayor Perkins and the city’s attorney said they were confident the cases would have won at court, but ultimately decided it was not worth the financial and emotional strain of continuing to drag the cases through court.

Mayor Perkins was asked why the city would opt to settle now if they believe they could win in court.

“I think it’s an economic decision because the cost of settlement is less than the cost of going to court, but I think it’s a lot more than that. It’s a sense of closure for the community. It’s a sense of doing what’s right,” he said.

Mayor Pro Tem Yvonne Johnson added, “I think this will put to bed, in a sense, 39 cases. That we can move forward from this point on and we need to do that because there are many issues on our plate such as jobs and economic development that we really need to focus on.”

Background

Last month, Mayor Robbie Perkins called a closed-door session to consult with council and city attorneys about the lawsuits filed by several officers, who allege racial discrimination and unfairness by the Greensboro Police Department.

In 2006, Greensboro found itself in midst of a controversy involving a number of Greensboro Police Officers who claimed the department had discriminated against them based on their race.

David Wray resigned as chief of Greensboro Police as a result of these allegations that same year.

Wray filed a lawsuit against the city in 2009 claiming that the city leaders stripped him of his authority and forced him out of office.

In February, a 17-page transcript detailing a conversation between Wray, Former Greensboro City Manager Mitchell Johnson and a human resource director was made public.

In the transcripts, Wray defends using the departments intelligence unit to investigate officers.

The city has already accumulated $1 million dollars in legal fees over the seven-year period.