Roselle, NJ – A retired Roselle Police Department (RPD) lieutenant was awarded of $1.2 million on Tuesday, after a Union County jury determined that his department had violated discrimination and civil rights laws.
He achieved the highest score among the applicants, and had no history of disciplinary actions with regards to his decades of service at the RPD, according to court documents.
On the day that the exam results were announced, Lt. Downing was written up for minor disciplinary infractions, including forgetting to endorse a report, making improper copies of paperwork, and being eight minutes late to one of his scheduled shifts.
The infractions, issued by RPD Chief Gerard Orlando, rendered Lt. Downing ineligible for the captain’s promotion, and ultimately forced him into retirement, the NJ Advance reported.
The jury concluded that the RPD and Chief Orlando violated the state’s discrimination and civil rights laws, and awarded Lt. Downing $350,000 for emotional distress.
He also received $60,000 in back pay, $570,249 in lost pension, $48,000 in future wages, and $250,000 in punitive damages.
Lt. Downing served the RPD for a total of 26 years.
“If this verdict does not show that racism will no longer be accepted in our educated and enlightened society, I do not believe anything ever will,” the lieutenant’s attorney, Patrick Toscano told the NJ Advance. “Simply put, achievement has no color.”
“A detailed investigation conducted by an independent counsel confirmed that there was no evidence to substantiate the allegations made by the plaintiff,” the statement read. “The Borough supports and fosters and environment of equal opportunity for all of its employees, and, therefore, must explore all legal avenues to overturn the unfortunate and misguided decision in this matter.”