A Michigan officer was harassed by his colleagues after an Ancestry.Com test revealed he was part Black. He was recently awarded $65,000 on Tuesday for a civil rights lawsuit filed against the city of Hastings, MI.
Police Officer Cleon Brown was subjected to racial ridicule after discovering he was 18-33 percent “sub-Saharan African” through a genetics test. He disclosed the information to his co-workers who began racially taunting him. They called Brown “Kunta Kente” and shouted “Black Lives Matter” when they passed the officer in the hallway. They also hung a Black Santa Clause figure from a Christmas tree with the numbers “18%” written on it.
In 2017, Brown sued the City of Hastings for $500,000 according to WBCH. He accused officers and the mayor of violating his civil and federal rights in violation of the state’s Whistleblowers’ Protection Act.
Brown claimed the racial taunting caused him distress and humiliation. However, the city alleged that the officer would make racist jokes about Black people and jested about his race to officers. The city accused the 20-year police veteran of bringing the harassment on himself when he joked about the DNA results to other officers.
The Hastings officer will receive administrative leave benefits until Oct. 31 or until he obtains full-time employment. Brown also agreed to resign from his position and not seek employment in the City of Hastings.
The agreement stated, “This agreement is not an admission of liability by the released parties and is being undertaken solely to avoid the cost and uncertainty of litigation.”
Brown was awarded $65,000 for attorney fees, emotional distress and physical illness.
The officer’s attorney Karie Boylan said Brown was a “good cop” and “respected”, but the department “ruined his life.”