Veteran officer has history of filing claims

Posted at 6:55 PM, Sep 11, 2015
and last updated 2015-09-11 21:55:44-04

A veteran police officer who filed a lawsuit after he was released from a Chula Vista Police Department training program has a history of making racial discrimination claims, Team 10 learned.

A tip from a 10News viewer uncovered a 2008 lawsuit filed by 61-year old David Mitchell. In that lawsuit, Mitchell claims he was denied a promotion within the San Diego Police Department because he had complained about and reported racial discrimination.

Mitchell was a sergeant who passed the test to become a lieutenant. His lawsuit claims "less-qualified and lower-ranked non-African-American officers who also applied for the same promotion to Lieutenant were selected instead."

SDPD claimed it had "legitimate, non-discriminatory reasons" for its actions. In a memorandum supporting the city's request for a summary judgement the City Attorney wrote:

"The plaintiff is a good police officer. He was qualified to be a lieutenant. But so too were 115 other police officers. The system is specifically designed to give the Chief flexibility. He exercised that flexibility in a non-discriminatory manner. Plaintiff (Mitchell) was disappointed. So too were six other officers who did as well as plaintiff did or better on the very same tests. There was no discrimination and no retaliation involved."

The city asked for, but was denied, summary judgement to avoid a trial. In 2009, the city of San Diego and Mitchell entered into a settlement. Mitchell later was promoted to lieutenant.

Mitchell retired from the SDPD in 2014, and in 2015, he signed on to become a Chula Vista police officer. He was fired before he completed the 10-week training.

Mitchell claims he was present when field training officers made racial slurs on two occasions. On one occasion, Mitchell said in the lawsuit one of his supervisors referred to patrons at a gay bar as "Nancies."

He filed a lawsuit against CVPD this week, claiming he was fired after he filed a complaint about the racial slurs. The lawsuit lists racial discrimination, hostile work environment and retaliation as the reasons why.

Attorney Dan Gilleon told Team 10 the two cases have nothing to do with one another and that the SDPD case is inadmissible in the one filed against CVPD.

"He spoke out when he was at SDPD. He spoke out when he was at the Chula Vista Police Department, and if anything happens in the future, he’s going to speak out again," said Gilleon. "We need more people like David Mitchell who will speak out against discrimination and fewer people who are afraid to speak out for fear of retaliation."