Follow us:

The Today File

Your guide to the latest news from around the Northwest

March 26, 2013 at 3:46 PM

Former Medina police chief wins $2 million discrimination lawsuit

Former Medina Police Chief Jeffrey Chen was a victim of racial or ethnic discrimination when he was fired from his job, and he is entitled to $2 million in compensation, a federal jury said Tuesday.

U.S. District Court Judge Thomas Zilly will decide at a future hearing whether to order the city to reinstate him in the position he lost two years ago.

An eight-member jury found that Medina and its city manager, Donna Hanson, discriminated against Chen, a Chinese-American, under three separate sections of federal and state law, and denied him due process. Hanson was ordered to pay $25,000 in punitive damages, in addition to the roughly $2 million in compensation to Chen from the city for back pay, future pay and emotional harm.

“The message is that discrimination is not allowed, it will not be tolerated,” said Chen’s attorney, Marianne Jones.

After hugging Jones and supporters who included two former City Council members, a tearful Chen said he was thrilled by his victory but said he had to sue the city to clear his name.

“I want to go back to work in the profession I’ve worked hard at. My service to the public has always been near and dear to my heart. I would love to serve the community and the great citizens of Medina and Hunts Point and I look forward to that,” Chen said.

The verdict followed an 11-day trial in which Chen claimed he was fired because of his Chinese-American ancestry while city attorneys portrayed him as a corrupt cop who had to go.

Jones said in her closing argument Monday that Hanson fired Chen because of her “old-school racism” directed at the only nonwhite department head in the city. She cited racist comments attributed to Hanson.

Suzanne Michael, representing the defendants,  told the jury Chen was a corrupt officer who lied to his boss, spent city funds for his own use, bullied his subordinates, snooped in other officials’ emails, fixed traffic tickets and justified his decisions by writing memos addressed to himself and falsely attributed to subordinate officers.

Comments | Topics: Jeffrey Chen, Medina

COMMENTS

No personal attacks or insults, no hate speech, no profanity. Please keep the conversation civil and help us moderate this thread by reporting any abuse. See our Commenting FAQ.



The opinions expressed in reader comments are those of the author only, and do not reflect the opinions of The Seattle Times.


Advertising
The Seattle Times

The door is closed, but it's not locked.

Take a minute to subscribe and continue to enjoy The Seattle Times for as little as 99 cents a week.

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Subscriber login ►
The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription upgrade.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. For unlimited seattletimes.com access, please upgrade your digital subscription.

Call customer service at 1.800.542.0820 for assistance with your upgrade or questions about your subscriber status.

The Seattle Times

To keep reading, you need a subscription.

We hope you have enjoyed your complimentary access. Subscribe now for unlimited access!

Subscription options ►

Already a subscriber?

We've got good news for you. Unlimited seattletimes.com content access is included with most subscriptions.

Activate Subscriber Account ►