10/25/2018Whistleblower Cop Wins Case Against DC Speed Camera Program
Speed camera whistleblower wins back pay in discrimination lawsuit against Washington, DC police.
A 23-year veteran of the Washington, DC Metropolitan Police Department (MPD) who blew the whistle on speed camera corruption was vindicated in federal court on Tuesday. Sergeant Mark E. Robinson blasted the "integrity issues" with the automated ticketing program and saw his take-home pay suffer as a result.
A jury sided with Robinson in March, so US District Judge Rudolph Contreras on Tuesday ordered the city to pay Robinson $289,478 to cover his legal expenses, in addition to a check for approximately $74,000 to cover the 828 overtime hours he missed out on, with interest.
In 2009, before he spoke out publicly, Sergeant Robinson was paid $143,292 thanks in large measure to his overtime work in the speed camera program. The city transferred him in 2011 to the special events unit, and his earnings suffered significantly. Robinson's lawsuit alleged the camera program manager, Lisa Sutter, set up speed cameras improperly, voided speed camera tickets for friends, misappropriated $25,000 in government funds and "had an improper relationship with a non-profit organization."
As the case proceeded over the course of five years, a judge tossed the whistleblower complaint, but the court agreed that a jury should decide whether the city violated equal opportunity laws.
"Ms. Sutter is white," Sergeant Robinson told the court. "I perceived her negative decisions about me to be motivated by unlawful considerations of my race."
To prove the point, Robinson showed 150,000 hours of overtime were given to officers over a number of years. He was denied overtime, even though he was highly qualified.
"MPD's explanations for excluding me from the ATEU [Automated Traffic Enforcement Unit] overtime opportunities are inconsistent with the way the ATEU has always operated and my role as a manager of the ATE program," Robinson said. "Sergeant Keith Blakely, who is a white male with less qualifications than me to work in the ATEU, was allowed to work in the ATEU even though he was not one of the 213 lottery members and he had not actively used ATEU equipment for many years."
In addition to the monetary award, the city will now have to consider allowing Sergeant Robinson to work in the speed camera program once again.
"The District is enjoined from excluding Mr. Robinson, because of his race, from overtime opportunities in the ATEU overtime program, to the extent the program is still operational and such opportunities are available to officers outside the ATEU unit," Judge Contreras ruled.
Sergeant Robinson had asked the court for a lager monetary award and a stronger injunction against future discrimination. Judge Contreras pointed out that Sutter no longer works for the MPD, so there is no proof that such a step would be necessary.
A copy of the ruling is available in a 150k PDF file at the source link below.