Darziel Hall assists at the scene of an accident on the Southfield Freeway last week. He is suing the State Police for $1 million in damages over claims of discrimination for being removed from a firearms examiner program. State Police denies the allegations of discrimination. / Kathleen Galligan/Detroit Free Press
On Dec. 17, 2010, Michigan State Police Troopers Darziel Hall and Lamarr Johnson were presented certificates at a public ceremony for “successfully completing” the department’s firearms examiner training.
Two months later, both were removed from the program for poor performance in the course.
Hall and Johnson are black.
Both scored better than white applicants who, rather than being removed from the program, were promoted to sergeant as firearms examiners, records show.
The two troopers are now suing the department for racial discrimination in Wayne County Circuit Court, each seeking more than $1 million in damages.
“This case is an all-too-familiar reminder that bias is alive and well in the personnel decision making … of our law enforcement agencies,” said Leonard Mungo, the Detroit attorney representing the troopers.
State Police denies the allegations.
The department said in a court filing that the documents presented to Hall and Johnson certified successful completion of only part of the required training.
The troopers were removed from the program because they received negative evaluations after performing poorly in a mock courtroom session, Assistant Attorney General Jeanmarie Miller said in a Feb. 5 motion to dismiss the lawsuit.
“Race was not a factor in the decision to remove plaintiffs from the training program,” Miller said in the court filing, which noted that one black trooper who completed the program was promoted to firearm examiner.
On April 17, Wayne County Circuit Judge Annette Berry denied the state’s motion to dismiss, and the case could be headed to trial.
John Collins, who was head of forensic sciences for the State Police when the course was conducted, testified in a deposition that receiving the certificates “suggest(s) very strongly” that Hall and Johnson successfully completed the training.
But completion of the training, conducted by an outside contractor, was separate from any employment decisions such as promotions and appointment of firearms examiners, which was solely up to the State Police, Miller reported in a court filing.
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