LITTLE ROCK, Ark. – A preventative crisis – that is how a human resources investigator described the current storm of lawsuits surrounding Little Rock police chief Keith Humphrey.
That investigator hired by the city of Little Rock claims that Humphrey and two other high-ranking Little Rock Police Department officers were involved in “racial discrimination, hostile working conditions, and retaliation,” according to an email obtained by FOX 16 Investigates.
The email from August 9 of this year was released as part of a court order in a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit filed by three current and former Little Rock police officers.
It was sent to the city’s head of human resources, Stacy Witherell, by Loretta Cochran, a part-time department employee hired by the city last year to help investigate complaints involving Humphrey.
The email focuses on the firing of Officer David Mattox, which Cochran described as “a clear indication of racial discrimination, hostile working conditions, and retaliation” by Humphrey, Asst. Chief Crystal Haskins and Lt. Brittney Gunn.
Cochran goes on to warn that Mattox’s termination, “exposes the City to an ever increasing damages award” if Mattox would elect to take the case to court. She also noted this could be the case for “several other LRPD personnel who have been targeted for harassment & retaliation by the Chief and his allies.”
The investigator ends her message by showing concern that the ongoing drama in the courtroom surrounding this issue could wind up leading to real-world tragedy in the streets.
“I only pray that no lives are lost due to this ongoing but preventative crisis,” she wrote.
According to the response from Witherell, the email from Cochran was forwarded to City Manager Bruce Moore.
Cochran completed an investigation into the police department and chief in June of 2021. That report has since been sent to Moore, but no public actions have been taken.
Humphrey has been named in five lawsuits filed by current and former officers since last April, with claims in those suits ranging from retaliation to sexual harassment.
A Little Rock Police Department spokesman declined to answer any questions about the email saying, “We do not comment on legal matters.” Requests for comment sent to Mayor Frank Scott Jr.’s office have not been answered, while Moore’s office said the city manager was unavailable to comment on the update.