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Judge tosses Cleveland police officer’s retaliation lawsuit against city

May 11, 2018 GMT

Judge tosses Cleveland police officer’s retaliation lawsuit against city

CLEVELAND, Ohio — A federal judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by a retired Cleveland police officer who claims he was forced out of his security detail at Cleveland-Hopkins International Airport because he spoke out against the privatizing of airport security at the beginning of Mayor Frank Jackson’s tenure.

U.S. District Judge Sara Lioi on Monday wrote that Christopher Harper did not prove that the city retaliated against him when he was suspended for 30 days in August 2015 for a variety of infractions ranging from inconsistencies on his daily duty report to sleeping on the job.

Harper retired in April 2016.

Harper, who worked at the airport for 14 of his 27 years at the city, said in a 2016 lawsuit against the city and other officials that he was among the most vocal opponents of privatizing security at the airport, an unsuccessful measure the city attempted between 2006 and 2008, at the beginning of Jackson’s administration.

Police officials brought disciplinary charges against him in 2015. Harper said the charges against him were “baseless” but that city officials promised a lenient punishment if he just pleaded no contest to them.

Lioi wrote that “the City has more than sufficiently shown by competent and unrefuted evidence that it had legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons for its actions with respect to Harper, all of which were permitted under the terms of the (union’s collective bargaining agreement) and agreed to by Harper.” She also said he didn’t prove a connection between his discipline and his free speech years before.

Harper also said that four days after his suspension, police Chief Calvin Williams transferred Harper to the Fourth District as retaliation, which forced him to retire in April 2016.

Lioi also wrote that Harper didn’t show that his reassignment was a retaliatory action. She also said Harper said he didn’t show he was treated differently than non-black officers.

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