DETROIT (WXYZ) - She’s the woman who says she was harassed and sabotaged by ex-police Chief Warren Evans and his girlfriend. Shanda Starks talks exclusively with the Action News Investigators -- and her allegations could end up costing Detroit taxpayers – she is suing the City of Detroit.
Investigator Scott Lewis broke the story of the former chief’s girlfriend Lt. Monique Patterson having a history of temper tantrums. It is Patterson, who Shanda Starks says cost her a high-profile position in the police department and derailed her career.
Although Starks’ lawsuit lays out some explosive allegations against Patterson and the former chief, she says her case is not about either of them.
“It’s about an abuse of power,” says Starks. “And they abused their power.”
Until recently, Starks had a coveted job on Mayor Dave Bing’s executive protection unit, and she loved the assignment.
But Starks was suddenly transferred out, supposedly for gossiping about former chief Evans’ romance with Patterson.
“I mean everyone was talking about it,” says Starks. “It wasn’t a secret. He was talking about it on his Facebook page. I mean everyone was discussing it.”
Starks says there’s a lot more to the story.
“And anyone who knows Shanda Starks knows that I’m a stand-up type of person,” she says. “This isn’t the first time I’ve stood up in the department and it won’t be the last. I just think that this type of behavior has to stop.”
Starks came on the job 14-years ago and Action News is told she has an unblemished record. She was the first female ever to serve on the Detroit Police Honor Guard. Starks has a Master’s Degree, and recently ranked 23rd out of 320 officers on a promotional exam.
She’s been a patrol officer , worked special operations and in the sex crimes unit. Starks says her troubles with Lt. Patterson started at sex crimes. Patterson ran the unit. Starks decided to become a union steward because she didn’t like the way Patterson treated other officers.
“Basically, I filed a lot of grievances against her for some of the actions that she was taking,” says Starks. “Basically I would file grievances on some of the issues that I felt was unjust.”
When Mayor Bing got elected, Starks was offered a spot on his executive protection unit and she grabbed it. She says things were going great. That is until she was written up for something that supposedly happened two years earlier while working for Patterson.
Starks told her bosses it was a personal vendetta by Patterson. Then she was suddenly transferred to the Northeast District.
Starks says former chief Evans “… called my boss and said I was spreading vicious rumors about his personal business. And no one ever told me what the rumors were or what I allegedly said, but I thought it was unfair.”
At the Northeast District, Starks landed in special operations, a pretty good gig -- but it didn’t last long. Four months later, she was moved to a patrol unit with a choice the afternoon or midnight shift. According to her lawuit, it was more harassment.
“Who do you think pulled the strings on that transfer?” asks investigator Scott Lewis.
“I think that it was either the chief or Monique, or both,” says Starks.
“Getting back at you?” asks Lewis.
“And it was very unfair,” says Patterson.
Last December Starks was invited back to the mayor’s executive protection unit. But former chief Evans apparently blocked it.
“Every month they had been saying you’re coming back, your coming back, you know your coming back,” recalls Starks. “So, I was kind of waiting. And then maybe in about April they said the chief has convinced the mayor to not let you return and I was devastated.”
Shanda Starks field a discrimination complaint with the city Human Resources Department.
That’s where this story takes a baffling twist. A few weeks ago officer Starks got a letter from the city Human Resources Department. It says they didn’t find enough evidence to support her complaint. Essentially they said, there was no case, for harassment or discrimination.
But how can that be? Just three weeks after Starks got that letter, then chief Evans was forced out. And Mayor Bing’s chief communication officer told reporters Evans' treatment of Starks was one of several factors in his dismissal.
Starks lawyer Carl Edwards says it just doesn’t wash and this case smacks of the same old Detroit politics.
“As one of my mentors said many years ago, ‘same old beef stew warmed over.’ We’ve got to get away from this. If Detroit is truly to break new ground, get the reforms it needs, start us on a new path, we can’t have a new administration coming in playing politics with the lives of officers like officer Starks,” says Edwards.
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