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San Diego Police Officer disciplined for reporting racial bias in field

Officer says she reported on an officer's decision to ticket a Black man for jaywalking while not citing his Caucasian counterpart.
Credit: CBS 8

SAN DIEGO — A San Diego Police Officer says she was harassed, retaliated against, and passed up for promotions for reporting racial bias she witnessed by two police officers in the field. 

In a newly filed lawsuit, Officer Jennifer Gregory, says her supervisor, Captain Manuel Del Toro, made sexually offensive comments to her and made sure she did not get a promotion that she applied for. 

According to the complaint, in February 2021, Gregory witnessed two police officers detain two people, a Black man and a White man, for jaywalking on the 5000 block of Imperial Avenue. The officers, according to Gregory, issued a single ticket to the Black man and not his Caucasian friend. 

During the police stop, in order to de-escalate the situation, Gregory wrote a message to the Black man that the officers were, "assholes."

A witness to the stop later submitted a formal discrimination complaint.

During the Internal Affairs investigation, Gregory says investigators discovered the message she had scrawled on the piece of paper during the stop.

That, she says, is when the mistreatment began.

The two officers allegedly refused to provide backup to Gregory a week later. When Gregory complained to her Captain, Del Toro, he refused to investigate.

The mistreatment worsened when the department opened its internal investigation into the pedestrian stop. 

Reads the lawsuit, "Gregory stated that she was angry that the black individual was ticketed while the white individual was not, especially when verbal warnings were a viable solution. Gregory made it clear to [Internal Affairs] that this was a situation of racial bias."

Despite her testimony, says the lawsuit, Internal Affairs decided it would discipline Gregory for writing the message to the pedestrians.

Not long after, Gregory says Captain Del Toro said he didn't want her working for the Southeast Division any longer and, reads the complaint, "called her a 'Rat F*@ck Snitch', 'Buddy F*@ker' and 'Blue Falcon.'"

Gregory alleges Del Toro blocked her transfer and promotion to watch commander. 

Gregory said a separate internal investigation sustained the allegations that Del Toro and two other officers had violated department policy and harassed Gregory.

Despite this, Gregory says she is still forced to work with Del Toro.

In a statement, community advocate Tasha Williamson says more needs to be done to ensure racial biases are kept out of the police department.

"Discrimination within police agencies has been a long-known fact among Black community members," said Williamson. "For generations, we had to witness, live through and hold on to the trauma of being treated differently by police. This lawsuit is yet another proof that Racism is alive and thriving in the San Diego Police Department.  Many officers have witnessed what happens when officers intervene and that they will be subjected to harassment, sexual harassment, disciplinary impacts, inability to promote, and officers refusing to cover them at stops. Today, I hope a powerful message is conveyed on how discriminatory practices and the destructive Blue Wall of Silence are harming community members and officers who intervene.  When will the Mayor of San Diego intervene?"

CBS 8 reached out to the San Diego Police Department for a response. It failed to get back to us in time for publication. This story will be updated when/if a response is provided.

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