FORT COLLINS, Colo. -- Racism extending all the way up to the deputy chief of police -- that’s the claim in Fort Collins.
A second Fort Collins police officer has come forward and filed suit against the city and police. Both officers claim they were discriminated against for being Latino.
“This really cuts to the issue of a long-term, systemic pattern of discrimination against Latino officers,” said Qusair Mohamedbhai, a civil rights and employment discrimination attorney.
Mohamedbhai represents the second officer to file suit in what is known as an amended complaint.
“It started with one officer and now there’s going to be two,” Mohamedbhai said. “And likely, there’s going to be many on the way because of the bravery of the first officer.”
The claims against Fort Collins police are serious.
The original lawsuit claims Sgt. Gary Shaklee repeatedly referred to Hispanics as, ‘lazy and incompetent.’ And when internal complaints were filed, the suit claims Shaklee’s bosses conspired to cover-up those complaints.
"And they generally just made life a living hell for its Latino officers,” said Mohamedbhai. “And this good ole boys network that exists in the Fort Collins police department has to change. As soon as Latino officers become officers at the Fort Collins police department, they hit a glass ceiling.”
Both officers, Detective Kennyberg Araujo and Sgt. Francis Gonzales, are seeking back pay and related compensation claiming emotional distress among other things.
"Fort. Collins is losing its best, most diverse officers to other departments because of the way it's treating its officers,” Mohamedbhai said. “The police department in no way reflects the diversity of its community.”
Denver7 reached out to Fort Collins Police Services for a comment. Police Services replied by saying they could not comment on pending litigation.
“The courageous officers that are bringing forth these allegations are really hoping for change. They do not want the next generation of Latino officers to have to face this type of institutional discrimination," Mohamedbhai said.