A black former West Covina police officer sued the city and four of his white ex-supervisors Tuesday, alleging he was fired after a little more than a year on the job for complaining that he was harassed because of his race and was called "big black ghetto cop'' and "the black kid.''
Joshua Volasgis' Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names as individual defendants Lt. Ronald Allen, Lt. Kenneth Plunket, Sgt. Houston Clements and Sgt. Brian Prizzi. The suit alleges racial discrimination and harassment, retaliation and failure to prevent harassment and discrimination.
A representative for West Covina City Attorney Kimberly Hall Barlow did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
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According to the lawsuit, Volasgis performed his duties in an "exemplary fashion'' after being hired by the city in June 2016. He claims that throughout his employment, his supervisors told him his main focus should be to "stop blacks in West Covina'' because he had "free reign over the black community because plaintiff does not have to fear any allegations of racial bias.''
"Almost immediately after being hired, plaintiff began to be harassed because of his race,'' his suit states. "Plaintiff was subjected to inappropriate racial comments, jokes and slurs concerning his race on a daily basis.''
In addition to calling him "big black ghetto cop'' and "the black kid,'' the supervisors told him that the next time a burglary occurred, they would send him to the scene without a badge, meaning that no suspect would see him so long as he did not smile, according to his court papers.
His bosses also told Volasgis that he "would not like it if (they) called plaintiff (the N-word),'' and they spoke to him in a "slave-era dialect,'' the complaint alleges.
Volasgis says he complained about the remarks and the alleged mistreatment, but the comments and harassment only increased.
The plaintiff alleges that Allen told him, "Remember who you are and what you are,'' and Plunket told him, "Reputation means a lot here and we are like a small family.''
After telling Volasgis that he had a "stack of blank internal affairs investigations in my office with your name on them,'' Clements warned the plaintiff, "Keep pushing it,'' the suit alleges.
Volasgis alleges he was wrongfully suspended on April 28 in connection with an incident in which a suspect struck two officers while reaching for a box cutter. Volasgis, who was fired Aug. 28, says he was told he lost his job for "failing to satisfactorily meet the requirements of probation.''
Volasgis alleges he actually lost his job for coming forward with his complaints about his supervisors' conduct toward him.