Update: The Fort Lauderdale police union has denied Jacques’ allegations of racial discrimination and says the circumstances leading to his termination were “virtually impossible to defend.” The full statement is posted below.
For almost the entire time he worked for the Fort Lauderdale Police Department, Officer Dimitri Jacques was secretly palling around with rappers Meek Mill and Rick Ross while off-duty.
According to Jacques, Mill and Ross were friends who occasionally paid him for security services and consulting. But the cop was suspended for two years and fired in January 2018 after city leaders found out about his connection to the rappers.
Now Jacques is suing Fort Lauderdale and the city's police union for racial discrimination. The ousted officer, who is black, says black cops were often disciplined more harshly and frequently than their white counterparts. The federal complaint against the Fraternal Order of Police Lodge 31, which was filed late last week, claims the union refused to advocate for Jacques despite a history of representing white officers "for much more serious offenses."
The FOP did not respond to a request for comment from New Times. The City of Fort Lauderdale has denied the allegations of racial discrimination in court documents and says Jacques' termination was legitimate.
The exact nature of the officer's relationship with Mill and Ross is still fuzzy, but it's clear Mill and Jacques associated as early as October 2012, a Pennsylvania lawsuit confirms.
Jacques, a narcotics detective who joined FLPD in January 2012, was in a Range Rover with Mill in Philadelphia on Halloween night in 2012 when the SUV was pulled over for an alleged traffic violation. After police learned Jacques was carrying a gun, they asked him and Mill to step out of the vehicle. One of the cops, Officer Alvin Outlaw, smelled weed inside the car, and a drug-sniffing dog apparently confirmed his suspicion.
Police later determined Jacques was legally carrying his weapon, but he and Mill, along with the two other passengers, were cuffed and taken to the station, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. They were released ten hours later without being criminally charged; Mill eventually filed and lost a 2014 wrongful-arrest lawsuit against the police department.
Although news coverage from the time included Jacques' name and status as a Fort Lauderdale Police officer, the city didn't find out about his relationship with Mill or Ross until a year later. In 2015, Jacques was suspended while the State Attorney's Office investigated the city's suspicion he had been falsifying his hours. Prosecutors closed the investigation in 2017 without filing criminal charges.
After the criminal probe, the police department launched an internal investigation to see whether Jacques had played the role of a bodyguard, which is against department policy. Jacques was fired January 18, 2018.
"Fort Lauderdale decided that Jacques' affiliation with the music artists were egregious offenses warranting termination," Jacques' lawsuit against the city says. "The discipline meted out to Jacques was harsh, excessive, and unnecessary, ruining his 12-year career as a police officer."
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Mill has a lengthy arrest record that started when he was 18 and received probation following charges of illegally possessing a firearm and assaulting a cop. He was later sent to prison for drug dealing by a judge whom Mill has alleged was conflicted. And he has been accused of violating probation several times. Ross, who has worked with Mill, last year pleaded no contest to a felony count of aggravated assault after being arrested on kidnapping and assault charges. Those charges were later reduced, and he was given 60 months of probation.
Jacques' attorney, Robert Harris, did not respond to a phone call and email from New Times. Jacques has asked the court for lost wages, back pay, and attorney's fees.
Update, January 3, 1:30 p.m.: Mike Tucker, president of the Fort Lauderdale Fraternal Order of Police Lodge #31, provided the following statement to New Times.