Ex-cop sues Struthers over firing
YOUNGSTOWN — Former Struthers policeman Xavier Young, who is black, claims in a federal lawsuit that his firing by the City of Struthers was racially motivated, a violation of due process guaranteed under the U.S. Constitution’s 14th Amendment, and against Ohio public policy.
The defendants in the suit, filed by Young on Thursday in U.S. District Court Northern District of Ohio Eastern Division, are the City of Struthers, Mayor Daniel Mamula, Safety-Service Director John P. Sveda, and Police Chief Robert Norris.
Young’s attorney, Thomas N. Michaels of Cleveland, said the defendants have 20 days to respond after being served on Monday.
Sveda denied Young’s allegations, saying Young was given due process from start to finish, and representation through his union, the Fraternal Order of Police.
“None of this [Young’s termination] had anything to do with race,” Sveda said.
Young began his employment with the Struthers Police Department in 1995 as a reserve policeman and became a full-time policeman in 1999.
In his suit, Young said he was placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation of an episode that occurred at his residence in Struthers late on Dec. 31, 2004, and early on Jan. 1, 2005, in which two men got beaten up at his home. Two days later, on Jan. 3, 2005, Young was notified that his employment status was changed to administrative leave without pay.
Young’s predisciplinary hearing in the matter was conducted Jan. 13, 2005, in Struthers, by Campbell Mayor John Dill, who concluded that the “alleged conduct did occur.”
On Jan. 18, 2005, Sveda notified Young his employment was terminated, but the action was delayed when the Fraternal Order of Police filed a grievance contesting Young’s firing. Grievance hearings on March 15, 2006, and May 4, 2006, were conducted in Struthers by arbiter N. Eugene Brundige, who upheld the termination and denied Young’s grievance.
Young did not testify at either his predisciplinary or grievance hearings, officials said.
In his suit, Young contends that caucasian employees in similar circumstances have been placed on administrative leave with pay; received lesser discipline than himself; and not terminated from their jobs. He also contends that the post termination grievance/arbitration procedure was inadequate and not timely ... and as a result he alleges that the city violated the due process clause of the 14th Amendment.
Young says he was “intentionally discriminated against ... because of his race...,” and demanded a jury trial. He asked that he be reinstated as a Struthers policeman retroactive to Jan. 18, 2005. He is also seeking in excess of $75,000 in punitive, compensatory and actual damages, and reasonable legal fees.