A Baltimore Police officer assigned to the internal affairs unit is suing the department, alleging he was discriminated against and wrongly accused of leaking information to the target of an administrative investigation.
Chedais Jacques, a Haitian national who was hired by the department in 2008, filed the lawsuit in U.S. District Court this month, claiming that he was retaliated against because of his race.
The lawsuit is the latest filed on behalf of Black and Latino officers against the Baltimore Police Department by Washington, D.C.-based attorney Dionna Maria Lewis.
“It seems BPD settles a case, throws money at it, but doesn’t change the behavior,” Lewis said in an interview Wednesday.
Lewis said that although many of the department’s command-level staff are Black, and some are women, the minority and female officers she has represented face negative behavior when they complain about their treatment.
Among Lewis’ recent cases was a complaint by Jasmin Rowlett, a Black sergeant who said she was discriminated against and accused of fraternization with a male Hispanic officer. Rowlett found a fake rat on her desk, which Lewis said was meant to serve as intimidation.
Rowlett later won a $77,000 settlement against the city.
Jacques’ case is the latest that Lewis said shows a “practice of race discrimination.”
According to the complaint filed Monday, Jacques, an internal affairs investigator since 2019, received a complaint from a woman about a married officer with whom she was having a extramarital affair. She accused the officer of spreading a sexually transmitted disease to her and other women.
Jacques had worked previously with the officer against whom the allegations were made, and was accused of leaking information about the investigation to him, the complaint said. Ultimately, Jacques was cleared of any wrongdoing, Lewis said.
Despite being cleared, he continued to face harassment, the complaint alleges.
“Plaintiff was regularly demeaned, humiliated, laughed at, and embarrassed by this treatment,” the complaint said. “Even though he was found cleared of any wrongdoing, and there were only unfounded rumors, he still faced retaliation and harassment.”
After receiving the complaint from the woman, Jacques was told initially by superiors that the allegations did not violate a departmental policy, the lawsuit said. He was told to sit on the complaint unless something else developed from the allegations.
Later, Jacques spoke about the allegations to Maj. Stephanie Lansey-Delgado, who headed internal affairs, and learned that the accused officer was already under investigation for sexual assault against a female detainee. Lansey-Delgado told Jacques to relay information about the affair allegations to a detective in the ethics unit.
Jacques then received messages from the woman who complained, saying she thought the officer was stalking her. She believed someone in the department leaked information about the allegations to the accused officer, the lawsuit said.
On Oct. 2, 2020, the lawsuit said, Jacques was at work for his normal shift when he was told to gather his belongings and report to the ethics unit, where was questioned and eventually told he would be charged with hindering a Public Integrity Bureau investigation. He was then held, had his work and personal phone taken from him, and was not able to call an attorney, the complaint said.
The lawsuit said Jacques’ authorization to enter the building was revoked and for four days he was assigned to work in “an isolated room.”
“Despite Plaintiff’s continued cooperation to demonstrate the falsity of these allegations, he was still treated discriminately, as a criminal and denied the most fundamental of rights,” the complaint said.
The lawsuit alleges that “non-Hispanic Caucasian members of the Ethics Unit who are neither immigrants, Haitian, nor African American did not experience this type of treatment even with the same, or more egregious, allegations of misconduct.”
Jacques remains with internal affairs, his attorney said.
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A police department spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.