Maryland police officers discussed killing Black Lives Matter protesters in text messages, a Black police officer alleges in a civil rights lawsuit.
The federal suit, which was filed Monday in Maryland, also accuses the officer's white supervisor in the Maryland-National Capital Park Police of once writing, “They want a race war…ok lets go.”
In the suit, Officer Mark Miles alleges that he was subjected to discrimination, harassment and retaliation after he reported discriminatory conduct.
Miles' former supervisor, Sgt. Stephanie Harvey, and the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission, which oversees the Washington, D.C.-area police department, are named as defendants.
Miles was transferred to work for Harvey in spring 2020, the lawsuit says.
That’s when Harvey began making racist comments toward Miles, including calling him "colored" in front of the squad, the suit says. It also accuses her of condoning officers’ racist remarks in text messages.
“Harvey and other officers repeatedly made racist, hateful and offensive comments on that text chain with impunity,” the suit says. “These comments included racial and other offensive 'jokes,' condoning 'civil war' or 'race war' and extremist militia groups, and overt threats of violence against African American citizens.”
The lawsuit says Harvey and others “frequently talked about murdering Black Lives Matter protesters,” adding, “Defendant Harvey texted things like, 'Time to start killing ….'”
Harvey did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
In a statement Thursday, the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission said its police department “does not tolerate racism or harassment in the workplace.”
“When a series of secret text messages among a group of Park Police officers came to the attention of our management, we promptly initiated an investigation and took appropriate action," the commission said, adding that several officers were suspended and referred for termination.
“The suggestion that Park Police management ignored allegations of misconduct by this group of officers is simply incorrect, and we will make the results of the trial board process public at the appropriate time," the commission said.
The lawsuit alleges that the texts included racist and bigoted comments about Hispanics, Asians and the LGBTQ community.
In one exchange, Miles' lawsuit says, Harvey wrote that her comments were jokes and asked others not to “turn these texts over to [Internal Affairs] and get me fired for hate speech!” the suit said.
The defendants created a hostile work environment, the lawsuit says.
“Defendant Harvey knew or should have known that her comments and conduct was illegal ... that the conduct and comments of the officers she was supervising was illegal and harassing, but failed to take any steps to prevent and/or correct it,” the suit says.
It added that the Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission was complicit because it failed to “fully and adequately prevent, correct and discipline” white officers who engaged in acts of racism.
When Miles reported his experience to supervisors above Harvey, he was transferred to the less desirable night shift, the lawsuit says.
The suit seeks a jury trial, compensatory damages and Harvey's termination.