Little Rock lawyer Chris Burks says he’s filed another lawsuit by high-ranking Little Rock police officers against Chief Keith Humphrey for retaliation against them.
The suit is by Assistant Chief Alice Fulk and Lt. Cristina Plummer.
Fulk alleges retaliation against her began because of her testimony about the investigation of Officer Charles Starks’ fatal shooting of Bradley Blackshire during a stop last year to investigate a potentially stolen car. Fulk was among several officers who said the investigation against Starks was rushed by the chief. Several officers in the chain of command concluded Starks’ actions were justified. The chief fired Starks, but he was reinstated by court order. Said the lawsuit:
Chief Humphrey retaliated against LRPD Assistant Chief Alice Fulk for her testimony in the Charles Starks case by giving her a negative performance review, denying her
the same training opportunities given to others, lashing out at those that support Fulk in remarkably sexist language, and covering-up in his own words a “hostile work environment and gender discrimination” case (described in this chain of department communications).
The lawsuit says Plummer was denied training she requested and retaliated against because she was perceived to have Fulk’s support.
The suit notes that Fulk had applied for the job for which Humphrey was chosen, as did Hayward Finks, a plaintiff with two sergeants in an earlier lawsuit filed by Burks against Humphrey.
The new lawsuit similarly seeks damages for civil rights and whistleblower law violations. It alleges angry behavior by Humphrey and raises questions about his truthfulness in personnel issues.
Chief Humphrey did not respond to questions about the earlier suit so I don’t expect to hear from him or other officials from whom I’ve sought comment.
The chief’s position, I’m told by his personal friend, Marion Humphrey, a lawyer and retired circuit judge (but not his lawyer in this matter and not related so far as I know), is that these suits are without legal merit and amount to complaints from people who don’t like the way he runs the department, which is solely his prerogative.
Marion Humphrey points to the Civil Service Commission’s upholding of his firing of Starks and that even Circuit Judge Tim Fox, who reinstated Starks, found Starks had violated policy in the traffic stop by jumping in front of thecar.
Marion Humphrey said the officers who have complained don’t get to define their work assignments and that none has lost pay or rank. It’s important to note, he said, that both Fulk and Finks sought the job Humphrey got. “Sour grapes,” is how Marion Humphrey put it. He also said he believed a lot of complaints about Humphrey come from people who have a “hard time accepting decisions made by black men who have authority to make decisions.”