08/11/2006

Officers suspended over video parody sue San Francisco

Related: P-1 Members respond: The SFPD video controversy

By LISA LEFF
Associated Press Writer

SAN FRANCISCO- Eighteen police officers who were suspended after making a video that parodied life on the force sued the city Thursday, claiming they were victims of racial bias because they were disciplined while four Asian-American officers were not.



The plaintiffs include male and female officers who are black, Hispanic and white, said their attorney, Waukeen McCoy. The four officers who took part in the video but were not suspended are of Chinese descent, as is Police Chief Heather Fong, who also was named as a defendant, according to McCoy.

"They weren't disciplined at all," McCoy said. "There were singled out and treated more favorably, and that is a violation of law."

Two dozen officers were suspended without pay in December after city officials uncovered the 28-minute Christmas party video, which contained depictions of a white officer driving over a black homeless woman and a traffic cop pulling over a woman and ogling her. Mayor Gavin Newsom and Fong quickly condemned the clips, calling them racist, sexist and homophobic.

The suit, filed in San Francisco Superior Court, also claims that because of the mayor and chief's public denunciation of the video they suffered retaliation, defamation and intentional infliction of emotional distress.

They lawsuit seeks $20 million in damages.

Newsom said Thursday that he could not comment on the specifics of the allegations, but he reiterated that officers were wrong to make the video on city time while "mocking and mimicking the community." The lawsuit "only reinforces my concern about action and accountability," he said.

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