COUNCILWOMAN AND DETECTIVE ADDED AS DEFENDANTS
Allegations of racial discrimination within the Greensboro Police Department that have cost both the police chief and the city manager their jobs have now entangled a city council member, along with a white detective formerly assigned to the defunct special intelligence section.
District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade was recently added as a codefendant in an amended complaint brought by 40 African-American police officers, along with white Officer Scott Sanders, formerly assigned to special intelligence. The city of Greensboro, former Chief David Wray and former Deputy Chief Randall Brady were already named as defendants. EEOC statistics posted on the agency’s website indicate that the agency finds in favor of employers in roughly two thirds of cases reviewed. The EEOC’s finding that there was reasonable cause to believe that racial discrimination occurred within the Greensboro Police Department puts the case in rare company; that determination was made in only 3.9 percent of the complaints received in 2006, the year the Greensboro officers filed their claim. Plaintiffs include Capt. Brian James, who at one time served as Wray’s executive assistant; Detectives Norman Rankin and Ernest Cuthbertson, who served with Sanders in special intelligence; Of ficer
Ahmed Blake, who was recently found guilty of two counts of assault on a female; and John O. LeGrande, Calvin Stevens Jr. and Allen Wallace, who were investigated for an alleged 2007 assault. The officers are suing the city for racial discrimination, civil rights violations, invasion of privacy and other alleged wrongs. Central to the black officers’ allegation of widespread racial discrimination is the claim that a “black book” was used to target them and gather adverse information about them that would hurt their careers. After Wray became the chief and Brady the deputy chief, they allege, the two directed subordinate officers to gather pictures of black officers “for the use of line-up books or other visual aids… for the purpose of framing, embarrassing and wrongfully investigating and charging black officers with crimes, offenses and violations of both law and police policies.” The lawsuit, which includes about 65 factual allegations, provides no evidence that Wray directed the investigative activities of Detective Scott Sanders in special intelligence that are alleged to constitute acts of racial discrimination. Tim Bellamy, an assistant chief appointed as interim chief following Wray’s resignation in January 2006, told YES! Weekly at the time that “some of those actions originated with that unit before Chief Wray.” The plaintiffs’ allegations contradict Bellamy, who is now the police chief, citing a letter of determination from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that directly ties Wray to the lineups. “Testimony and documentary evidence confirms that the chief of police maintained a book which contained personal and confidential information on black police officers, along with their pictures (hereinafter the ‘black book’),” the EEOC letter reads.
“The evidence shows that all black police officers were targeted by the chief of police for potential inclusion in this black book. Furthermore, the evidence supports that said black book was used by [the department] to obtain incriminating evidence on its black officer[s]. A review of the record shows that non-black officers were not subject to this treatment during their employment with respondent. Therefore, the evidence shows that all respondent’s black officers were subject to discrimination based on their race, black.” The 40 black officers contend that their photographs, likenesses and names were included in at least one version of the lineup books and visual aids. Their suit alleges that Sanders and other white officers “presented the lineup books to members of the general public, including known convicted criminals and criminal suspects, which, in some cases, upon information and belief, resulted in the exposure of black officers… who were working under cover.” The lawsuit presents no information to support that allegation, but cites a July 2005 report made by consultant Gil Kleinknecht, who was brought in by Wray to review policies and procedures for special intelligence in the wake of critical media reports. “The GPD should consider revising the photo line-up procedure to prevent access to photos of all police officers (including undercover detectives) by the criminal element,” Kleinknecht wrote. “A bogus complaint by a narcotic or vice violators could be used as a ruse to identify undercover detectives!” The plaintiffs liberally cite statements by former City Manager Mitchell Johnson in their amended complaint. Johnson, who was removed by the city council earlier this month partly because of his handling of the police controversy, was thrust into a situation fraught with conflicting interests when Wray resigned amidst allegations of racial discrimination. On one hand, the manager had to justify his action and minimize the city’s legal exposure by showing that allegations of discrimination were being addressed; on the other hand he had to play down allegations of racial discrimination to avoid further increasing the city’s legal exposure. The record shows that Johnson’s characterizations of the purpose of the black book evolved over the course of Jan. 10, 2006, the day after Wray’s resignation, from the time when the manager and city council met in closed session to whenhe read a prepared statement and answered questions from media outlets.“Discussion was held with regard to the existence of a ‘black book’ inthe police department that included photographs of a number ofAfrican-American male police officers and citizens,” the closed-sessionminutes read, “the original purpose of the book to be viewed by acomplainant who made allegations against an African- American policeofficer, whether the book was used for any other purpose/case, who hadpossession/control of the book prior to and after Chief Wray’sresignation, who had prior knowledge of the book’s existence, andwhether the manager had seen the book and its contents.” Theminutes, along with other materials, were released in response to aMarch 6 order by Guilford County Superior Court Judge John O. CraigIII, who ruled in a public-records lawsuit brought by lawyer SamSpagnola and blog aggregator Roch Smith Jr. against the city. Johnson’sprepared statement displayed the same caution that he exhibited inclosed session. “The often discussed ‘black book’ — whichcontained pictures of African-American officers prepared and used inresponse to victim complaints — was represented as an investigativetool, and the chief described the possible existence of this sort ofdocument to the city manager, in theory, stating that he was unaware ofany actual documents that fit the description provided to the media byblack police officers,” the statement reads. “However, when thepossible existence of the black book became known to the public, ChiefWray instructed a subordinate to hide and secure the book and did notinform his superior of its true existence and actual purpose.” Butstatements the city manager made in the question-and-answer portion ofthe press conference went further. “I think what I’m describing isactivity that targeted African-American officers,” YES! Weekly quoted Johnson as saying. “Whether it represents systematic racism is yet to be determined.” Theblack officers’ lawsuit cites other similar statements by Johnson thatappeared in local media outlets: “If I were a black officer, I wouldhave been damned uncomfortable to be in that book,” and “If I were ablack officer, I would certainly feel targeted.” The lawsuit also cites a News & Record articlefrom January 2005 that quotes Johnson as saying that criminaldefendants were told, “If you ID an officer we might help you out.”More than two years later, Johnson would swear out an affidavit inresponse to the Spagnola and Smith’s lawsuit, that has been widelycited by Wray supporters as evidence that the claims of discriminationwere trumped up by Johnson from the start. “Based oninformation and belief, the ‘Black Book’ requested by the plaintiffsand in the possession of the State Bureau of Investigation is a photoarray or record purportedly compiled for the purpose of solving thealleged sexual assault,” Johnson stated. “The city of Greensboro is notaware of any documents or recordings in the possession of the city thatindicate any other use of the photo array… other than to purportedlysolve or prevent an alleged violation of the law.” The black officersallege that “defendants have represented publicly, and continue to thedate of this filing to represent that only one version of the lineupbooks ever existed, despite their knowledge that numerous such lineupbooks, containing photographs, likenesses and/or names of additionalblack officers… were created, maintained and/or presented to members ofthe general public by Sanders.” Seth Cohen, a lawyer whorepresents Sanders, could not be reached for comment for this article.Brady corroborated the black officers’ claim in a Nov. 16, 2005interview with members of the city legal department and investigatorsfrom Risk Management Associates, or RMA, a company hired by the citymanager’s office to investigate the police department under Wray’scommand. “I’ve asked about exactly how many lineups have beendone with Greensboro police officers and I was told there was two,”Brady said. “And I actually asked for that in writing.” A memodated July 8, 2005 from Sanders to Brady entitled “Use of PhotographicLineups” mentions the two sets of lineups. One set, Sanders said,included three black males employed with the Greensboro PoliceDepartment, and was shown to Bridgett Ekwensi. Another set, theso-called “black book,” reportedly included 19 black male officers andwas used in a criminal investigation. The black officers’lawsuit attacks the credibility of assertions that the “black book” wascreated as part of a legitimate investigation. “Defendantshave represented publicly, and continue to the date of this filing torepresent publicly, that the lineup books include only uniformed blackofficers of the Greensboro Police Department who were on duty when analleged sexual assault by a black officer of the Greensboro PoliceDepartment occurred, despite defendants’ knowledge that no such sexualassault by a uniformed black officer of the Greensboro PoliceDepartment was reported or occurred and that none of the lineup bookswere limited to uniformed black officers of the Greensboro PoliceDepartment who were on duty on a particular shift,” the lawsuit states. Closed-session minutes indicate, however, that then-interimpolice Chief Tim Bellamy told council on Jan. 24, 2006 that “the policedepartment never has 19 black officers on duty at one time” andmentioned “missing police files and financial files.” KenKeller, one of Wray’s lawyers, told council in a February 2008 letterthat he believed there never was “a book with photographs of blackofficers shown to numerous prostitutes and drug users,” adding that“there is a black binder with photo arrays prepared in response to aspecific complaint by an informant-prostitute of misconduct by a blackuniformed police officer. Since the complaint was misconduct by a blackofficer, the binder contains only photos of black officers. Thephoto arrays were shown only to the informant who made the complaint.”Describing the alleged incident, Keller wrote that “the black officereventually had her remove her clothes in the bathroom, then fondled herbreast, then inserted his fingers into her vagina. When the informantcomplained, the black officer told her to keep quiet, noted that no onewould believe her against him, and then left.” Keller also referenced adescription of the black officer, noting that Sanders and Sgt. Tom Fox,who commanded the special intelligence section, conducted a digitallytaped interview with the prostitute on Jan. 13, 2005. The prostitute,Keller said, “described the black officer as nice looking, in his late20s early 30s, with dark skin.” Keller told council that Sanders hadincluded a computer-search printout identifying police employees onduty at the time of the alleged assault in the so-called “black book.”“The details of the preparation of the photo array can be corroboratedthrough the investigative specialist,” Keller wrote. “If youdo not have her name, I will furnish it to you upon request. Iunderstand that she has been interviewed, both by the city ofGreensboro and by the SBI and that she verifies preparation of the CADreports both for calls in the vicinity and for the identities of theblack uniformed personnel working at the time in question.” NeitherSanders’ 2005 memo nor Keller’s 2008 letter to council references adate when the prostitute alleged she was groped by a black officer, andthe city was also unable to identify a date in response to a publicrecords request by YES! Weekly. “At this time, it seemsthat the GPD does not have a date for this alleged event,” PublicAffairs Director Pat Boswell said in a February 2008 e-mail. PoliceAttorney Maurice Cawn added in another e-mail that the department hadno incident report documenting the alleged assault. “The bestthat we can determine is that the incident allegedly occurred in lateDecember 2004 or early January 2005,” he said. “I have checked withseveral sources in the police department, and this is the best I have.”Brady said in an interview with city legal staff and RMA investigatorsthat he assisted Sanders in putting together the photo array that wouldcome to be known as the “black book.”
Wray said in a preparedstatement days after his resignation that he “instructed Chief Brady tosecure for safekeeping the photo-array book. My concern was that thiswas the only possible document that could constitute the rumored ‘blackbook,’ and I wanted to be sure it was not being used and to safeguardit in the event that it was need in the future to refute the rumor, ifnecessary.” Wray added, “Chief Brady initially secured thephoto array book by getting it from the detective and putting it in hisoffice. A few days later, Chief Brady became concerned that his officemay not have been the most secure location for this book (he could notlock his desk and was uncertain as to the number of individuals whomight have opened his office door).” Countering Johnson’sassertion that he hid the “black book” from his boss, Wray said, “I didnot immediately notify the city manager concerning the particular photoarray book in question because I had already discussed with the citymanager the possibility that some type of legitimate photo-array bookmay have been involved, and because I was uncertain whether the bookthat Chief Brady secured was, in fact, the rumored ‘black book.’”
Special intelligence and moral turpitude
The lawsuit also raises questions about whether the special intelligence unit was used inappropriately under Wray’s command. “DefendantsWray, Brady, Sanders and Greensboro caused black officers… to beinvestigated by the special investigation division instead of thecriminal investigation division, which primarily investigated whiteofficers,” the lawsuit alleges. The lawsuit contends that“SID,” or special intelligence, “was created for the purpose ofinvestigating criminal and/or subversive groups such as the Ku KluxKlan, street gangs and terrorists… and was never intended to be used toinvestigate officers of the Greensboro Police Department. Instead, theCID and internal affairs units of the Greensboro Police Department wereintended and designed to investigate officers of the Greensboro PoliceDepartment. Under instructions from defendants Wray and Brady, however,and due to the actions of Sanders, SID became an instrument forillegally investigating black officers of the Greensboro PoliceDepartment.” The Greensboro Police Department Directive Manualdescribes investigations of the type carried out by Detective ScottSanders in his assignment to the special intelligence section —including his alleged investigation into the allegation that a blackpolice officer groped a prostitute, which reportedly led to thecreation of the “black book” — as rightfully being handled by theinternal affairs division or the criminal investigation division. Directive7.1.1, referencing “allegations of employee misconduct,” effective Feb.14, 2005, states that the “department conducts administrativeinvestigations into certain incidents” involving officers in theperformance of their duties “due to the sensitivity and/or magnitude ofthe incident, even when an allegation of misconduct has not beenreceived.” Directive 7.1.3 states that allegations ofviolations of criminal law and “conduct involving moral turpitude” willbe referred directly to the internal affairs section. With theapproval of the chief of police, investigative methods such as lineupsmay be used by the internal affairs section. Also, “the chief of policeor his designee may authorize the surveillance, photographing, orfilming of employees during complaint investigations.” Directive7.1.6, which addresses allegations involving violations of criminal lawstates, “Some investigations, due to their nature, will be conducted asa criminal investigation prior to or concurrently with anadministrative investigation.” In contrast, the department’sStandard Operating Procedures do not specifically mention the specialintelligence section as having a role in conducting internalinvestigations of police employees. In the wake of allegationsof racial discrimination publicized in the media in the summer of 2005,Wray brought in consultant Gil Kleinknecht to evaluate policies andprocedures of the internal affairs division and the specialintelligence section. Kleinknecht recommended that the specialintelligence section continue to gather information on activities thathad a potential for violence or disorder, that might violate theconstitutional rights of another group, that required coordination withother law enforcement agencies, that could have serious national andinternational ramifications should violence ensue, that involveddeliberate and illegal behavior as a form of protest, that instigatedinter-group hostilities, that involved groups instigating violenceagainst the government, and that were related to organized vice, drugor other illegal activity.” He added that special intelligenceshould also continue to provide VIP security. “These activities arevery crucial to maintaining a safe community, especially during thecurrent homeland security crisis and the expansion of organized crime,”Kleinknecht wrote, adding that because of the importance of theseresponsibilities and because of limited staffing in specialintelligence, “investigations of employee criminal violations shouldnot be assigned to this section unless there are extraordinarycircumstances.” As to whether allegations of misconduct bypolice employees could constitute extraordinary circumstances,Kleinknecht left his recommendations vague. The consultantwrote that the results of an initial inquiry by the internal affairsdivision into an allegation of possible criminal misconduct by a policeemployee “will permit the chief of police to assign the allegation tothe metropolitan operations bureau” to conduct a criminal investigationor to internal affairs section as an administrative inquiry. Byindicating that possible violations could be routed to the metropolitanoperations bureau, the consultant allowed for an interpretation thatthey might be investigated by either the criminal investigationdivision or the special intelligence section. A recommendationto update the department’s SOPs regarding lineups also allowed room forinterpretation by not distinguishing between internal affairs andspecial intelligence. “Both the internal affairs sections andthe work units within the metropolitan operations bureau should adoptan SOP to formalize the procedures for conducting photo lineups duringboth criminal and administrative investigations involving a policeemployee,” he wrote. Kleinknecht concluded his report withpraise for the department under Wray’s leadership. “I found the GPDcommand and supervisory officers you have assigned to oversee theinternal administrative and criminal investigation responsibilities arewell qualified and knowledgeable and have a straightforward desire toperform at the highest professional level,” he wrote to Wray. A sectiondetailing types of information gathered by special intelligencecontains one plausible description of the kind of alleged activities ofinterest to Sanders in his investigation of various black officers. TheSOP states that “information will be gathered concerning thoseactivities in which there is a reasonable possibility that they will beor tend to be involved in organized vice, drug or other illegalactivity.” Wray cited the clause in a set of responses toallegations compiled by City Attorney Linda Miles that he provided tothe city manager and city council following his resignation. Defendinghimself against an allegation by the city manager’s office that thespecial intelligence unit did not follow established procedures setforth in policies and directives to regulate the investigation ofpolice misconduct, Wray cited Directive 7.2, which states that “thechief of police shall retain authority to authorize or supersede anyadministrative investigative procedure.” Other SOPsreferencing the activities and function of special intelligence make nomention of investigations of police employees or the use of lineupbooks. The SOP for “special intelligence section informationgathering methods,” effective March 15, 1999, makes no mention oflineup books as a method. The lawsuit alleges that on numerousoccasions Wray and Brady instructed Sanders and other white officers toinvestigate black officers without cause, using honesty tests to entrapthem. For example, the lawsuit alleges, Sanders and other whiteofficers in special intelligence “directed non-sworn Greensboro PoliceDepartment employees and/or hired informants to offer bribes, to offerprostitution, to offer to sell stolen goods, and/or to requestrestricted police-related information from such black persons, merelydue to their race.” The lawsuit does not provide specific examples ofhonesty tests used against black officers. The black officersalso allege that Sanders also targeted numerous prominent African-American community leaders for investigation by illegally recordingtheir conversations, at the direction of Wray and Brady. Cathleen Vance, the non-sworn police
employee who made therecordings, has refuted the allegation that the black leaders were thetarget of investigation. Formerly a violent-crimes task forcecoordinator for the department, Vance worked with Delilah Summers, acolleague from High Point, to set up so-called “call-ins,” in whichviolent repeat offenders would meet first law enforcement personnel whowould threaten them with jail time, and then with community leaders whowould offer support if they agreed to clean up their acts. “DelilahSummers and her associates were the focus of these investigations,”Vance wrote in a Feb. 2 e-mail to District 4 Councilman Mike Barber.“Most often I did not know where she was going to take me. In oneinstance you will hear Delilah Summers and I going into attorney[lawyer] Joe Williams’ office, chit chat with hellos and ‘how are you,’then speak with him about returning to the ‘call ins’ and stepping upto the plate using his powerful presence to help ex-offenders andconvicted felons get acclimated back into society. Speaking withmembers of the community to solicit their participation in our taskforce program was a big part of my responsibility as the violent-crimestask force coordinator. Delilah Summers knew I had access to police aswell as FBI files on convicted felons, some of which she told me wereher very close friends. These conversations with Delilah Summers andher attempts to gain what was considered classified and restrictedinformation was the only reason this investigation took place.” Chief Bellamy contradicts the plaintiffs’ claim that recordings of Williams and other black community leaders were illegal. “Thefollowing is an update of the investigation into the circumstancessurrounding recordings made by a police employee involving, in part,members of the community being recorded without their knowledge,”Bellamy wrote City Attorney Terry Wood on Jan. 29. “It was determinedthat no criminal violations occurred relative to the taping.” The lawsuit offers no evidence to support the conclusion that the recordings were made at the direction of Wray and Brady. Theplaintiffs contend that the police department under Wray’sadministration continuously failed to promote black officers topositions for which they were qualified and that they deserved to hold.In regard to Wray’s promotion of Tim Bellamy and Annie Stevenson toassistant chief positions, the plaintiffs allege that the former chiefexcluded them from the decision-making process. The plaintiffsalso allege that Wray and Brady undercut black officers’ authority andinfluence through trickery. For example, the black officers allege,Detective Ernest Cuthbertson, one of the two black officers assigned tospecial intelligence, “was frequently instructed to investigate byhimself fabricated criminal activity concocted by white members of SID,as a ruse so that in Cuthbertson’s absence the remaining members of SIDcould investigate black officers of the Greensboro Police Departmentunder instructions from defendants Wray and/or Brady.” Blackofficers were frequently denied “opportunities for pecuniary gain andfor prestige” offered to others in the department, such as teachingmarksmanship at GTCC, teaching at the police academy and becoming acertified instructor at the NC Justice Academy in Salemburg, accordingto the lawsuit. One of the plaintiffs, Steven A. Evans, who isdescribed as a master marksman in the US Army, was allegedly invited toattend the Justice Academy’s certification program, but was denied theopportunity by the department without justification. The followingyear, the lawsuit alleges, Wray agreed to send Evans to attend thecertification program, “but supplied him only with enough ammunition toget through the first day of the program and, to add insult to injury,refused to pay for his lodging.” The black officers allegethat Wray violated the NC Personnel Privacy Act numerous times toembarrass, intimidate and discredit them. For example, they allege, “ina meeting with the Greensboro Police Officers Association in about June2005, Wray publicly discussed the details of investigations intoallegations of criminal conduct, identifying by name various blackofficers of the Greensboro Police Department in connection with suchinvestigations.” Wray reportedly pointed at plaintiff NormanRankin and stated, “We looked at you too, but cleared you.” Wrayacknowledged the incident in a set of statements in response toallegations made by the city manager’s office that was provided toMitchell Johnson and members of the city council in February 2006.“Questions and discussion arose that touched on information possiblyaffected by personnel privacy regulations,” the response reads. “It wasChief Wray’s belief that the circumstances facing the agency wereextreme, and that he properly limited the discussion to the degreewarranted. The matters discussed had already either appeared in the media or were brought up by the officers or their counsel.”
‘Harass, intimidate, retaliate’
Later,after Wray resigned and Brady retired, the plaintiffs allege that thetwo routinely disclosed protected personnel information about blackofficers to Jerry Bledsoe, a noted true-crime writer who has written anextensive and ongoing series of articles about the police controversyfor The Rhinoceros Times. Describing a “common scheme”among the defendants, the plaintiffs allege that beginning with thehiring of Wray as chief of police in 2003, black officers “weresubjected to disparaging remarks, interference with theirinvestigations and other duties, a failure to train, a failure tocompensate, denial of bonuses, unfounded disciplinary measures,undesirable assignments, denial of benefits and retaliation due solelyto their race.” Following Wray’s resignation and Brady’s retirement,the plaintiffs allege that the scheme continued with Bledsoe’s series. “Wrayand Brady, by breaching state law proscribing the unauthorized releaseof personnel information,” the lawsuit reads, “routinely caused oraided and abetted in the publication of articles in the Rhino Times containing protected personnel information relating to black officers.” Thearticles have long been a source of frustration for the black officers,and pressure mounted on the city to take action against The Rhinoceros Times’ sourcesin late 2006. “The city manager reviewed for council the ongoingprocess since the resignation of former police Chief David Wray,”minutes from city council’s closed session on Sept. 19, 2006 read,“i.e. the dissemination of personnel information by the former chief,recent newspaper articles in which the additional personnel informationhad been given, the impact the release of the information had on themorale of the police department and individual officers, the legalstanding of the individual officers whose information has been madepublic, and whether the city had any legal standing in the matter.” Thecity manager and interim police chief ultimately determined they didnot. “The manager expressed frustration that police officers want toknow when he and the city are going to address problems withinformation being released,” the minutes continue, recording thatBellamy told council members that the district attorney advised thatthe city had no standing to bring lawsuits. While the city has scrambled to locate documents in the wake of Wray and Brady’s departure, The Rhinoceros Times has gloated about its access. Referencinga police memo in the newspaper’s possession, Editor John Hammer wrotein a Feb. 14, 2008 article timed to try to persuade council members tofire the city manager: “The sad news for Johnson and his minions isthat we have lots of documents and we can play this game for months.” The plaintiffs allege that the scheme underwent a further development when The Rhinoceros Times publishedtheir names after the city council approved a confidential settlementagreement, effectively scuttling the deal by forcing the council toreverse itself when constituents besieged them with howls of protest. Thelawsuit alleges that the disclosure was made “as part of an intentionalscheme to harass, intimidate, retaliate against and damage plaintiffsdue to their having engaged in constitutionally protected activities inconnection with the assertion of employment claims before the EEOC” and“to cause plaintiffs to suffer injury that would likely chill personsof ordinary firmness from… filing complaints” and pursuing redress fromthe EEOC. The lawsuit accuses the city of Greensboro and CouncilwomanTrudy Wade of breaching the agreement and violating state law “in aneffort to derail the impending settlement agreement.” Wade didnot return multiple phone calls for this story. The lawsuit contendsthat in March 2008 the city and the plaintiffs signed a Stipulation ofConfidentiality, agreeing that all discussions of efforts to addressthe officers’ allegations of racial discrimination would be keptconfidential. The agreement was signed by the plaintiffs, acting CityAttorney Terry Wood and Mayor Yvonne Johnson. The lawsuitalleges that the city council met in closed session on Oct. 21, 2008 todiscuss the claims, and that no plaintiffs or members of the media werepresent. In early November, the lawsuit alleges, as a resultof the closed-session discussion the city submitted a written offer tothe plaintiffs containing a specific monetary amount to resolvematters. The plaintiffs also allege that Councilwoman TrudyWade sought to confirm and publicize the names of the plaintiffs eventhough the city attorney had told council members that he would notprovide the names to them because they were protected under theconfidentiality agreement. On Nov. 13, The Rhinoceros Times publishedthe names of the black officers and the settlement amount. Theplaintiffs allege that the amount “was contained in no public documentbut had been revealed to Wade” as a member of city council in closedsession. An Oct. 31 e-mail from City Clerk Betsey Richardson to City Manager Mitchell Johnson describes how Wade obtained the names. “CouncilwomanWade called me this morning and has requested copies of the following:all outstanding consulting and service contracts except forconstruction and demolition contracts; all completed consulting andservice contracts since July 1, 2007; all current RFPs for consultingand service contracts.” Then Hammer submitted a public recordsrequest to the city on Nov. 9, requesting “copies of all documentswhich have been given to Councilmember Wade as a result of [her]request.” Two days later, he followed up with a request to Wade herselffor the documents. Hammer denied in a March 19 article thatWade provided names of the black officers to him, but then wrote,“Since the request made by The Rhino Times was the same as the request by Wade, a discussion was held with staff members about the best way for The Rhino Times to receive the documents in a reasonable amount of time. After The Rhino madethe request for the documents, it was discovered that no copies hadbeen made other than the copies that had been given to Wade. Since thecontracts came from several different departments and many differentlocations and would have to be reassembled and recopied, it made muchmore sense — to the staff and to The Rhino — to make a request to Wade, who still had the documents. For the city, getting the documents from Wade would save hours of work and for The Rhino, it meant we would receive the documents weeks earlier.” Thelawsuit argues, “To the extent that any public document was inexistence identifying the names of the plaintiffs at the time ofdefendant Wade’s purported public records request, the identities ofthe plaintiffs were placed in such a document or not redacted from thepublic document in violation of the agreement and applicable law.”Hammer said the list of names was included in a contract between theGreensboro Police Department, the US Justice Department and the USTreasury Department for federal forfeiture funds that required the cityto disclose any proceedings before courts or administrative agencies. Remediesfor complaints against an employer of racial discrimination may includeback pay and promotion, along with damages for mental anguish, futureearnings losses and inconvenience, according to the EEOC website.
District 5 Councilwoman Trudy Wade is accused by 40 African-American Greensboro police officers of violating a confidentiality agreement to derail an impending settlement. (photo by Quentin L. Richardson)
‘To the extent that any public document was in existence identifying the names of the plaintiffs at the time of defendant [Councilwoman Trudy] Wade’s purported public records request, the identities of the plaintiffs were placed in such a document or not redacted from the public document in violation of the [confidentiality] agreement and applicable law.’— Plaintiffs in Alexander vs. Greensboro