Home » A Black police chief in Colorado files a racial discrimination lawsuit after his firing

A Black police chief in Colorado files a racial discrimination lawsuit after his firing

by NBC News

DENVER — The Black former police chief of a small Colorado town says he was the victim of racial discrimination and fired after officers and city leaders worked to force him out even though he was cleared of wrongdoing by an independent investigator, according to a federal lawsuit.

Hal Edwards, who sued the city of Leadville, 75 miles southwest of Denver, in U.S. District Court in Denver on April 30, says in the lawsuit that City Administrator Laurie Simonson undermined his decision-making and leadership during his 18 months in the job because he is Black.

“If you talk to any African American person who is in a position of authority over a white work group, our integrity is questioned, our competence is questioned, and we are often undermined by subordinates,” Edwards said in an interview.

Former Denver Police Chief Hal Edwards.Courtesy Lake County Colorado

“In this particular case, that is evidenced by the way Administrator Simonson undermined my authority. It may not be blatant, in-your-face, calling-me-the-n-word-type racism, but it is, in fact, racism.”

Edwards was appointed chief of police in Leadville, which has a population of 2,600 people, 12 of whom are Black, in August 2021 by the mayor at the time, Greg Labbe. Edwards was the only Black employee in the nine-person police department.

Simonson, Labbe and Mayor Dana Greene could not be reached for comment.

Edwards also said in the lawsuit that he wasn’t given the necessary tools to succeed, such as funding to hire an assistant chief, and that previous white department chiefs weren’t subjected to the same treatment he had received from city leaders.

Edwards said he filed a complaint with the police department on Nov. 23, 2022, claiming to have been a victim of discrimination because he was treated unfairly and Simonson undermined his disciplinary efforts.

He claims in the federal lawsuit that Simonson rejected his complaint without investigating it.

Multiple officers submitted a written grievance to…

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