City tries to settle officer’s race lawsuit

January 8, 2010 9:05:00 AM



The Columbus City Council on Tuesday reportedly agreed to give Columbus Police Department Assistant Chief Joe Johnson a salary raise of $10,000 a year and $32,000 in cash to settle his racial discrimination lawsuit against the city. 


Neither city officials nor Johnson, who currently is paid about $54,000 a year, Thursday would confirm the reports or comment on the matter. 


In 2007, less than a month after a federal jury found the city did not racially discriminate against Johnson in the 2003 hiring of former Police Chief J.D. Sanders, Johnson filed a second lawsuit. 


The second suit alleged, among other things, the city sought outside applicants for the chief''s position and would not promote Johnson, who was serving as assistant chief, because of Johnson''s "race and because of the fact (Johnson) has filed an Equal Opportunity charge and a racial discrimination suit." 


According to court documents, the city asserts "three legitimate reasons" for not hiring Johnson -- he was less qualified than current Police Chief Joseph St. John, his performance was "poor" and he was "part of the long-term dysfunctional leadership of the Columbus Police Department." 


Following the resignation of Sanders, in 2006, Johnson was appointed interim chief; he had previously served as interim chief prior to Sanders'' hiring. 


On June 18, 2007, a federal jury found the city had not discriminated against Johnson by not hiring him as chief in 2003; the council voted to hire St. John on July 2, 2007.