A Top-Down Culture of Discrimination
In 2019, disturbing allegations of racism, sexism, and other misconduct at the highest levels of leadership in the Austin Police Department were made public. In particular, a formal complaint filed against former Assistant Chief of Police Justin Newsom claims that he allegedly made racist comments when talking about colleagues, subordinates, an Austin City Council member, and President Obama. The complaint states that Newsom specifically made racist, defamatory comments about longtime APD Detective Lamarcus Wells and another African American police officer, Keston Campbell. The complaints allege Police Chief Brian Manley and his fellow executive officers and administrative staff were aware of Newsom’s behavior. Manley has been accused of failing to take action to discipline high ranking officers and officers in his “circle of trust.”
Standing By Our Officers
Ross Scalise Law Group and its attorneys Daniel Ross, Megan Evans, and Brett Beeler are proud to represent Detective Wells in his claims against the City of Austin Police Department. After examining the information available at this time, we allege that the City of Austin Police Department has a pattern and practice of discriminating against African American officers through its policies or customs.
Fighting for Change Within the Department
Currently, the City of Austin Police Department has about 140 black officers on its force of about 1,800 officers. The City of Austin Police Department has no black commanders, assistant chiefs, or chiefs of staff. This does not accurately reflect the community that the City of Austin Police Department serves. Chandra Ervin, the President of the Texas Peace Officers Association, which represents African American peace officers employed with the Austin Police Department, stated at a press conference on November 25, 2019, “We view these statements made by Assistant Chief Justin Newsome against African American Officers as another example of racial intolerance and bigotry allowed to fester and take root in the Department… Chief Manley permitted Assistant Chief Newsom to continue making decisions over minority officers, despite his racial animus toward African Americans. What you permit, you promote!”
Our goal is to not only pursue justice for Detective Wells and other officers who have experienced discrimination within APD, but to spur a real change in the culture of the Department that will benefit all officers and the citizens of Austin.