8th Circuit preserves lawsuit against secretary of state and Capitol police chief | Arkansas Blog

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

8th Circuit preserves lawsuit against secretary of state and Capitol police chief

Posted By on Tue, Dec 17, 2013 at 1:29 PM

The 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals today preserved a lawsuit against the secretary of state and Darrell Hedden, chief of the Capitol police, over an officer's firing.

Richard Burton, who is black, alleges that he was a victim of race discrimination and retaliation when he was fired in 2010 (this was before Mark Martin took office; he is named a defendant in his official capacity). The 8th Circuit denied the state's request that the case be dismissed and also reversed a lower court ruling giving qualified immunity to Hedden. It ordered further proceedings. We've written about this case before.

The decision recounts Burton's complaint of repeat use of racial epithets by an officer with whom Burton worked. Burton said he had been warned:

Chief Hedden offered Burton the officer position in a meeting with Sergeant David Huggs. During the meeting, Chief Hedden advised Burton that he would be working the 3:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. shift with Officer Norman Gomillion, Assistant Chief Theo Pierce, and Officer Danny Winters, all white males. According to Burton, Chief Hedden told Burton that this "shift was full of rednecks" and "from time to time they may say some things that may be offensive" to Burton. Chief Hedden instructed Burton to come see him "if they did anything that bothered [Burton]."

Burton complained about remarks made by Gomillion.

Burton alleges that Officer Gomillion often used racial epithets in [employee Robin] Lang's presence,expressing his dislike for African Americans and his view that whites were superior to blacks. Lang and Burton worked the same shift and discussed Officer Gomillion's comments. When Officer Gomillion saw Lang with two African-American males,

Lang claims that Officer Gomillion said, "[Y]ou don't do that n****r thing, do you[?]" When Lang asked Officer Gomillion what he meant, he replied, "[Y]ou don't do that n****r thing, you don't date n****rs, do you?" Lang also claims that Officer Gomillion "referred to [President] Obama at that time as being the n****r in the office that was going to bring the United State[s] down." According to Lang, she often considered reporting Officer Gomillion but felt like she would be wasting her time.

Hedden met with Gomillion and wrote him a letter cautioning him about use of derogatory language. Burton, who was hired in mid-2009, got pay raises in December of that year and again in February. Later in February, Burton said Gommillion threw keys at him. He complained, but said Assistant Chief Larry Robinson told him, "if y'all stop aggravating [Officer Gomillion], this stuff wouldn't happen." Burton was later fired for being late to work (he said he'd overslept after working another job) and for being late filing an accident report (he argued he had to first learn how to use the reporting system). Burton claimed white officers with worse records hadn't been fired.

Tags: , , ,


Comments (2)

Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

Subscribe to this thread:
Showing 1-2 of 2

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

  • Rutledge meddles in women's healthcare in Ohio

    Now Attorney General Leslie Rutledge is working to deprive Ohio women of healthcare. If her work in Arkansas is any indication, it won't be good for Ohio women.
    • Aug 13, 2018
  • State Hospital escapee captured in Memphis

    James Barrett,  who escaped from the Arkansas State Hospital Saturday was captured by U.S. marshals today at a Motel 6 in Memphis, KARK/Fox 16 reports.
    • Aug 13, 2018
  • Monday, Monday

    A slow start to the week. Here's the open line, plus some odds and ends of news and comment.
    • Aug 13, 2018
  • More »

Readers also liked…

Most Viewed

  • Rick Crawford road tripping with Devin Nunes in Azerbaijan

    An Azerbaijan news agency reports on a visit from U.S. Rep. Devin Nunes, Donald Trump's protector on the House Intelligence Committee, along with committee member, Rep. Rick Crawford, a Republican from Arkansas's 1st Congressional District.

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Monday, Monday

    • Nice leap, Sarge. I didn't say every one was faked, but you will note the…

    • on August 13, 2018
  • Re: Monday, Monday

    • Wrong, still, jhudd. This idiocy was pretty, and unlike the support you and Sarge might…

    • on August 13, 2018
  • Re: The open line: Checking the arc of the moral universe

    • Nice deflection, Sarge. When did I source Hannity? Ever. You, Sarge, right there, no different…

    • on August 13, 2018



© 2018 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation