The Miami Police Department has long been criticized for mismanagement, including by the U.S. Department of Justice, which found in 2013 that Miami PD was regularly abusing city residents and acting with excessive force including during an eight-month stretch when seven black men were fatally shot.
According to a new lawsuit, that discrimination and mistreatment also extended to members of the force itself. In 2015, former Officer Alexis Stevens filed a
Now, 18 months later, the City of Miami is poised to pay Stevens $250,000 in taxpayer cash to settle her claims. The city commissioners will vote whether to approve the settlement tomorrow, with a recommendation from the city attorney that they do so.
Stevens' lawyer, Robert Harris, declined to speak to New Times about the case until a final settlement is reached. But according to the lawsuit, Stevens endured regular abuse from a white superior who later fired her after she complained to the feds.
Stevens joined MPD in 2014, after her father and brother had both joined the force. Stevens passed through training and her probationary period with ease and received stellar performance marks, her lawsuit notes, but the minute she was assigned to regular duty, things changed.
On January 4, 2015, she was assigned to a new unit, led by a white male supervisor. Stevens claims the officer, whom New Times was not able to reach for comment, habitually harassed her and even put her in dangerous situations for no reason other than she was black.
The cop "harassed Stevens about the use of her cell phone during meetings, while other non-black officers were allowed to use their cell phones," the suit says. Stevens also claims the sergeant made a habit of following her to crime scenes, made unspecified "racially charged" comments to her, and even "sent Stevens on dangerous assignments alone, in violation of the norms, practices, and policies of the Police Department."
In response, Stevens filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) February 2, 2015. From there, the suit says, Stevens' harassment escalated significantly.
"Just a week later, Stevens was placed on a '90-day action plan,' and was restricted to a forty hour a week schedule, preventing her from earning overtime pay," the suit says. After she filed her EEOC complaint, she also received a poor performance review from her supervisor — the first and only of her career.
From there, Stevens says, she was transferred to another department and, despite exemplary performance reviews, was repeatedly placed on probation. After finishing her 90-day review period, Stevens was transferred back to the sergeant she said harassed her — and was attacked again, simply for taking her lunch break at an odd hour.
This time, Stevens was fired.
But it appears she's getting the last laugh: Rather than fight her claims, the City of Miami has proposed settling the case — and taxpayers are on the hook for covering the city's $250,000 settlement with Stevens, provided the City Commission votes to approve the settlement.
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Though the city isn't admitting guilt, someone in the city's legal department has decided it's a safer and cheaper bet to pay Stevens a huge chunk of cash to keep quiet and go away.
Here's the full suit: