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Lawsuit claims discrimination against black Little Rock police officers

Four black Little Rock Police officers are suing the city for racial discrimination. Officers claim age discrimination, along with retaliation and violations of the Arkansas Whistleblower Act.

Four black Little Rock police officers are suing the city for racial discrimination. Officers Willie Davis, Jackie Parker, Derrick Threadgill and Earnest Whitten claim age discrimination, along with retaliation and violations of the Arkansas Whistleblower Act.

Attorney Michael Laux said the discriminatory environment black officers are subject to dates back to the late 1970s, when the city was sued for similar claims.

“The Little Rock Police Department has not lived up to what it's capable of being and we want to find out what it's capable of doing to be better,” said Little Rock police Lt. Johnny Gilbert, who will be added to the lawsuit once the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission approves his request for suit.

“The situation goes something like this: When an African-American recruit, young officer comes aboard, he or she is gung-ho wants to get involved but they're told, 'Hold on, be patient, it's not your time,'" Laux said. "Yet, these are code words or code phrases. Meanwhile, their white counterparts are getting plum positions."

Part of the suit cites examples of white officers being punished less harshly than black officers. One example involves Sgt. Willie Davis, a plaintiff in the suit.

Davis was suspended for 10 days after allegedly failing to properly report the racial slurs a police recruit made on social media; that recruit ended up being fired.

“When you divide a department along racial lines, favoring some and disfavoring others, you are not going to have a department that's operating at full capacity -- period,” said Laux.

KATV reached out to Little Rock City Attorney Tom Carpenter, who said did not immediately have a comment on the case.

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