Breaking News
More () »

Shocking cartoon at center of suit against SDPD

A San Diego police officer is suing the SDPD over claims of racism.
Credit: KFMB
Shocking cartoon at center of suit against SDPD

SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) – A San Diego police officer is suing the SDPD over claims of racism.

In the suit, 11-year veteran SDPD Sgt. Arthur Scott alleges top brass at police headquarters threatened and retaliated against him after he spoke up about a racist cartoon passed around during training. Scott is also the vice president of the San Diego Black Police Officer's Association.

The cartoon, from the early 1900s, shows a depiction of the SDPD's first black officer, Frank McCarter.

"It was totally inappropriate," Scott's attorney Dan Gilleon said.

Last August, Scott says he complained about the racist cartoon, which was passed around during a mandatory training for lieutenants and sergeants about the history of the department.

"They shouldn't have been passing around a picture of an ape to supposedly honor this guy," Gilleon said.

Derogatory words were also used to describe Asians. The department pulled the cartoon, but Scott claims after a talk with the chief, he was passed over for a promotion to investigative sergeant and force to make a lateral transfer to the Central Division.

"They threatened it, they said, 'If you want to take a transfer over to central, I'm not going to have to investigate these allegations of conduct unbecoming,'" Gilleon said.

Scott made the transfer, but that wasn't the end. Now he's filed a civil lawsuit against the city alleging retaliation and failure to prevent harassment and retaliation.

"We have a problem with a good ol' boys network where you can't speak out. If you do, they punish you and that is a culture we are facing right now here in San Diego," Gilleon said.

San Diego Police Department Chief Shelley Zimmerman sent CBS News 8 this statement:

"We were just made aware of the pending lawsuit this afternoon. We take these allegations very seriously. We will fully cooperate and support any and all investigations into this matter. At this time, it would be inappropriate for us to comment further on this case since it is in litigation."

The city attorney's office had this to say:

"As lawyers for the city, our deputies will review the claim with the Administration and the officers as to what occurred and then defend the city as lawyers are supposed to do. Other than that, our office has no further comment."

Scott also complained in 2011 about offensive images of President Obama in officers' lockers. The lawsuit also alleged a hostile work environment. Monetary damages were not disclosed.

Before You Leave, Check This Out