Detroit police officer suing department alleging racial discrimination

Posted at 7:19 PM, Aug 23, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-23 19:21:23-04

Detroit Police Officer Johnny Strickland is suing the police department, claiming it's a "racially hostile work environment," according to the lawsuit filed by the ACLU.

Strickland read a written statement Thursday, but his attorney, Mark Fancher, would not allow reporters to ask Strickland questions about an incident in which he claims white officers harassed him. 

"It is a police department where racial discrimination is widespread and white supervisory officers discriminate against black subordinates," Strickland said in the prepared statement. 

It was around 4 a.m. on Jan. 22, 2017, when Strickland went to a gas station on Jefferson on the city's east side and claims he "inadvertently" entered a crime scene. 

Detroit police were investigating a report of a grenade. 

Fancher said it was foggy and Strickland didn't realize a police investigation was in progress. 

It was when Strickland recognized an officer and identified himself as an off-duty officer that the problems began, said Fancher. 

Strickland claims the white police officers on the scene quickly handcuffed him tightly and called "stupid," "dumb" and "idiot."

In the lawsuit, Strickland does not make any mention that he was called a racial slur. 

When asked if Strickland was the subject for any other claim of racial harassment, Fancher said there were no other situations, and that Strickland's basis for alleging a hostile work environment stem from what he's seen on social media and heard from others throughout the department. 

Fancher said a 2017 internal police report details racial issues, and he said Detroit Police Chief James Craig should have immediately addressed all white supervisors with the department. 

7 Action News asked if Strickland is upset with the department for a 15-day suspension he received in 2011 after he was accused of filing a false insurance claim for the alleged theft of his motorcycle.

Fancher said he would not talk about the suspension or anything in Strickland's disciplinary history with Detroit police. 

A spokesperson for Detroit police said they could not comment on pending litigation.

Strickland has been with the Detroit Police Department for 11 years. He's currently assigned to Downtown Services.