SAN DIEGO — A veteran police officer who was fired from the Chula Vista Police Department after he complained of offensive comments by training officers has filed a lawsuit, saying he was retaliated and discriminated against by his former employers.
David Mitchell, 61, was invited to apply for a job in Chula Vista in December 2014 after he retired from the San Diego Police Department, where he had worked for 24 years and reached the rank of lieutenant, according to court documents. His application was accepted in April, after which he began a 10-week training period.
Mitchell, who is black, said in the lawsuit that he was “subjected to racist and inappropriate language” by his supervisors. On one occasion, he said, he and a field training officer were in a patrol car near Woodlawn Park, when the training officer told him: “They used to call this ‘n—– hill.’”
On another occasion, a training officer used the word “jigaboo” when describing a home where police had responded to a domestic violence call.
Bart Miesfeld, a senior assistant city attorney, said he had not yet seen the lawsuit and would not comment on its claims. He said he was familiar with the matter involving Mitchell and the city takes seriously any allegations of misconduct.
Mitchell filed an administrative complaint in June with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing, citing those incidents and others in which he felt he was being treated differently than other trainees. He was placed on administrative leave on July 20.
About a month later, he was told the city had conducted an independent investigation, and concluded that his claims for retaliation and discrimination “were not supported by the evidence.” The next morning he was told he had not passed probation.
“It just doesn’t pass the smell test, “ said attorney Dan Gilleon, who filed the lawsuit on Mitchell’s behalf Wednesday in San Diego Superior Court.
Gilleon said the notion that Mitchell, who had received numerous accolades for his work throughout his career, would be unable to meet the requirements to pass probation is “absurd.”