Modesto faces lawsuit filed by one of its own police sergeants

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MODESTO, Calif. (KTXL) -- The city of Modesto is facing a lawsuit filed by one of its own police sergeants, who claims the police department has harbored a culture of discrimination and retaliation.

Sgt. Derrick Tyler is the one who filed the lawsuit against the city. FOX40 spoke to his attorney, Peter Koenig, over the phone Friday.

“He had been given a heads up from his first police chief, ‘Watch your back, there’s cowboys out here,’” Koenig said.

A Modesto representative responded to FOX40 with a written statement:

Since the City has not seen the lawsuit it would not be prudent to comment on its merits. The Police department is however proud of its diverse workforce, even though it has, like many forces in the area, had recruitment challenges.

Koenig said Tyler is an exemplary 22-year police veteran who has tried at least three times to become a lieutenant, only to be shut down.

“To test for these you would get on the list but when his name came up they just said, 'We’re not talking about it, period. We're not talking about it,'” Koenig said.

Tyler said the reason is that he’s black and had spoken up about the hostile work environment back in 2014 when he testified in his Latino co-worker’s discrimination suit.

Koenig said Tyler has been a part of that recruitment only to see racist attitudes prevail.

“Some of these people that are minority applicants that have past experience and other things, but they just didn’t have that old boy connection,” Koenig said.

Tyler is close to retirement but said he would like to see real changes made within the city for future police officers, according to Koenig.

“There are minority applicants out there that are not getting a fair shake and he wants that to change,” Koenig said.

His attorney said Tyler also filed formal complaints with the city and the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing years ago but nothing was done.

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