January 9, 2010 7:50:00 PM
A settlement has officially been reached between the Columbus City Council and Columbus Police Department Assistant Chief Joe Johnson regarding his racial discrimination lawsuit against the city, according to Johnson''s lawyer, Jim Waide.
Contacted Saturday afternoon, Waide said Johnson has received a $10,000 raise in salary and $32,000 in cash to settle the suit. He said he considers the matter closed.
"Joe Johnson has been an outstanding police officer for the City of Columbus," Waide said. "It is unfortunate he has never been selected as chief of police."
Johnson currently earns $54,000 a year. Neither he or Mayor Robert Smith were available for comment.
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 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.