LRPD chief considering taking city to court, lawyer says

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LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — The Little Rock Police Chief is considering taking the city to court over employment discrimination claims, according to the Chief’s lawyer.

This comes less than 24 hours after a federal judge on Wednesday tossed Chief Keith Humphrey’s civil rights lawsuit.

Humphrey filed the lawsuit in September 2020. He sued the Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police and more than 20 people, including current and former officers. In the suit, Humphrey claimed his constitutional rights were violated in a conspiracy to get him off the force.

“Upward and onward. This case is still viable and we anticipate additional defendants in this case, possibly the city of Little Rock,” Mike Laux, a civil rights lawyer representing Humphrey in this case said.

Laux said Humphrey initially didn’t want to sue the city.

“Loyalty to the city and in particular to the Mayor and so, but things have developed since last September when we filed this lawsuit,” Laux explained. “There might be more along the lines of employment discrimination, I can say that much at this point.”

In a statement a spokeswoman for Mayor Frank Scott Jr. wrote, “regarding the possibly pending lawsuit against the city by Chief Humphrey, the Mayor won’t have a comment.”

When the suit was first filed last year, it was amid ongoing, public disputes at the department after the chief fired a white officer who shot and killed a black man.

Several officers sued the chief for harassment and retaliation, which Humphrey claimed in his lawsuit were part of a conspiracy.

Little Rock Fraternal Order of Police (FOP) President, Zachary Farley maintains the police union has not been involved in a conspiracy to get rid of the police chief.

“We don’t agree with the administration all the time, but it’s not to the point where we’re violating people’s rights or his rights to do things,” Farley said. “We’ve just seen some problems we wanted to address.”

Attorney Timothy Steadman represents several officers who were being sued by Humphrey. In a statement Steadman said:

My clients are law enforcement officers who are dedicated to serving and protecting the citizens of Little Rock. They’re very happy with the judge’s decision dismissing the chief’s lawsuit. And I think the judge’s order was very clear that the chief’s theories don’t hold legal water, but my clients are concerned about the city continuing to enable the chief continuing his campaign of harassment and retaliation and they’re looking forward to seeing the legal process play out in the cases they have pending.

One of the officers is repented by attorney Robert Newcomb, who said in a statement, “we’re pleased the judge saw it that the claims about my client were frivolous.”

Several officers and the FOP are represented by lawyers Debby Ferguson and Lance LoRusso. They sent the following statement:

We are thankful that Judge Moody was able to look past the politics and objectively apply the law to this case, which called for the dismissal of Chief Humphrey’s complaint.  As the order of dismissal states, every count in the Chief’s lawsuit against the Fraternal Order of Police and its board members was without merit, and we do not believe the Chief’s complaint can be salvaged by refilling it to include additional parties.  As our clients have motions pending before the Court, we will limit further comments while the Court considers those matters.  In the meantime, we ask this community to pray for and support our officers as they strive to protect Little Rock’s citizens. They are doing their best to keep people safe despite the obstacles that recent events have exposed.

Meanwhile Laux says Humphrey is weighing his options and questioning city leaders.

“My question to the city is where are you guys and where are you folks in terms of your chief who’ taken needless hits, and wrong hits in my opinion, and I don’t want him dying a death of a thousand cuts,” Laux said.

Allegations of wrongdoing against Humphrey are part of a city human resources investigation that was completed in June.

City Manager Bruce Moore says he’s still reviewing that report.

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