A Black officer of the Nashville Police Department launched a federal lawsuit against her employer after she was allegedly retaliated against following her reports of sexual assault by a fellow officer.
Monica Blake, 36, claimed in 2016 that she was attacked by Officer Julian Pirtle, who she was romantically involved with at one point, while at her home. She said Pirtle was intoxicated when he strangled and raped her according to a lawsuit she filed on Nov. 16. The officer said she was “terrified” by the incident and refrained from immediately reporting the incident, but cut all communication with Pirtle.
Pirtle who admitted to assaulting Blake was charged with aggravated domestic assault and decommissioned according to ABC News. He was also later charged with rape and an order of protection was issued against him.
However, Blake’s problems had yet to begin. First, her morning shift at McKissack Middle School in Nashville, Tenn where she was assigned as a school resource officer was switched to evening. Blake requested to be assigned to a different detail “due to the trauma she had experienced” according to the civil complaint. Her Commander, Janet Marlene Pardue moved Blake back to mornings but forced her to work a day on the weekend as well.
Secondly, Blake who’s been with the police department since 2005, asked Pardue if she could start her shift an hour later in order to take her children to school. Pardue agreed, but the officer was required to use her vacation time which resulted in her losing several vacation days.
Pirtle violated the order of protection against him after texting Blake who reported the incident to the Nashville Police Department. Pardue decommissioned Blake a week later on June 15, 2016, and demanded she complete a psyche evaluation. Blake was completely stripped as an officer and was forced to turn in her badge, gun and radio.
In 2017, Pardue offered to testify on Pirtle’s behalf “by alleging that Officer Blake is a dishonest person,” according to the lawsuit. In January, the rape charges against Pirtle were dropped and he was sentenced to three years of probation. His name was also kept off the sex offender registry
Blake said she was scared that Pardue would “use any excuse to provoke a conflict, make false allegations against her, or even physically harm her,” the complaint stated.
The 36-year-old officer said she’s suffered “emotional harm as well as lost income” due to Pardue’s “retaliation.”
She told ABC News, “Because of the culture of the police department, at every turn, either the complaints fell on deaf ears, or inadequate investigations would occur, or they would not include me in the investigation at all.”
Blake said she’s faced discrimination from her department for several years due to her gender and race. She accused Pardue of being “personally hostile to African-Americans who raise the issue of racism in America, especially if they raise it in the context of the criminal justice system.”
The 36-year-old officer has received at least 41 suspensions since first reporting her sexual assault. She’s since been assigned to a high school in the North Precinct as a patrol officer.
In the lawsuit Blake is suing for nominal damages, compensatory and punitive damages in an amount to be determined by the jury, attorneys fees, court costs and a restraining order against the department “as soon as possible.” She also requested a jury trial.