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Two Maryland Officers Awarded $650K in Racial Discrimination Lawsuit as Third Awaits Justice

Justice has begun to prevail in the case three former police officers in Maryland who alleged they were racially discriminated against by their co-workers.

The city of Pocomoke City, Maryland, has agreed to pay out $650,000 total to two of the officers who filed a federal racial discrimination lawsuit against officials in Worcester County and Pocomoke City. It claimed they and a third officer were mocked, threatened, falsely accused of misconduct and retaliated against based on their race, according to The Associated Press.

Former Pocomoke City Police Chief Kelvin Sewell has taken a settlement of $450,000 and the city agreed to pay $200,000 to former Police Lt. Lynell Green, according to a filing made Wednesday, April 10.

Pocomoke City Police Department members, Lynell Green (left) and Franklin L. Savage (right) pose for a portrait with their former police chief, Kelvin Sewell, center, on Monday July 13, 2015 in Pocomoke City, Maryland. Sewell claims he was fired because he would not fire Green and Savage after they had filed EEOC complaints. (Photo: Matt McClain/The Washington Post via Getty Images)

A statement from the American Civil Liberties Union of Maryland, which represents all three ex-officers, notes a consent decree has also been established to bring reform to the Pocomoke City Police Department, where training will be put in place to prevent future race discrimination and retaliation.

“It is our hope that by putting new policies and practices in place, others will be protected. No one should have to go through what we went through,” Green said in a statement. “This has been very hard. I’d never experienced anything like the discrimination in Pocomoke in my life. It ruined my career, and now I have to pick up the pieces and continue with my life.”

“While the scars from this experience will always be there, I am hopeful that this Consent Decree will help protect both officers and community members in the future. I also hope I can now move on with my life,” Sewell said in part.

Meanwhile, Detective Franklin Savage continues seeking justice.

“I’m exposing those who think they can get away with things like this,” Savage said. “Ultimately, it’s the job of law enforcement to do the right thing and that’s what I always try to do. We put our lives on the line every day. Now, I’m in a fight for justice, and I am determined to hold those who have done wrong to me and my coworkers accountable for their actions.”

Sewell said he will continue to support Savage “in his ongoing fight.”

The lawsuit was filed in January 2016. Sewell, who was the PCPD’s first Black police chief, alleged he was terminated for not firing Savage and Green, who filed of racial discrimination complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Savage alleged he spent four years working in the department in a hostile work environment. Among his allegations in the suit, he says fellow members of a Worcester County narcotics task force used racial slurs often when he was around, put a faux food stamp with President Barack Obama’s face on it in his desk drawer and put a bloody deer’s tail on the windshield of his car.

Green claims fellow officers as well as officials working in the city frequently retaliated against him for defending Savage.

The same year the officer’s case was filed, the Justice Department requested to join the litigation. The department’s filing alleged the city of Pocomoke, the Worcester County sheriff and the state of Maryland caused the officers to experience a hostile work environment. That case is still pending.

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