Sheffield Lake Police Officer Keith Pool is speaking out for the first time since his former boss made headlines after video footage caught him leaving a “Ku Klux Klan” note on the officer’s raincoat. Pool, who is Black, is now taking legal action.
During a virtual news conference with WKYC on Thursday, Nov. 11, the Ohio cop appeared alongside his attorneys from Peiffer Wolf Carr Kane & Conway law firm, where the officer revealed the details surrounding the June incident as well other mistreatments he says he endured at the hands of former Police Chief Anthony Campo.
“Even when I watch it now, I am in disbelief that this happened to me,” Pool explained. The initial video, which has no audio, showed Campo placing the offensive note on Pool’s coat and Pool finding it and laughing. “It was so demeaning that in the moment I just didn’t know how to react to it. I felt like I’d been hit with a sledgehammer,” he added.
The officer said when he returned to his desk, Campo, who retired on June 29, 2021, the same day he was placed on leave, came back into the room and called the other officers, all of whom are white, to come see the note.
“My exact words were, are you serious? And I just looked at him and left it,” the 30-year veteran cop said. “What else can you say to the chief of police who’s done something so heinous? It’s so awful.”
Campo maintained that the note was just an off-color joke, but Pool, who said he lost a great-uncle to KKK violence, told reporters he failed to find the humor in the former officer’s behavior. “It was not a funny joke. It was offensive and humiliating beyond anything I’ve ever experienced in my entire career and my life,” the officer said. “Not only did he hurt me. He hurt my family. He hurt my kids.”
Other allegations from Pool included claims that the retired officer once made a “KKK-style” hat out of paper and told Pool he would have to wear it on an upcoming service call.
Ashlie Case Sletvold, a partner with the firm, said in a statement: “Our investigation has revealed that Chief Campo referred to Officer Pool as the ‘N-word’ and said he did not want an ‘N-word’ working in his department.”
The firm also said that the city was withholding public records regarding Campo’s alleged additional harassment toward other minority officers.”This was not the first time doing something racist and offensive to me or other employees,” Pool said. “It was just the first time they got caught on video.”
In a discrimination charge filed with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, Pool and his attorneys are asking that the Ohio Supreme Court “for the release of public records documenting offensive conduct perpetrated by the former police chief.” Further legal action is set to take place.
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