Former South Bend Police Chief Darryl Boykins officially put the city on notice Tuesday – he may sue over his demotion earlier this year.
Boykins' lawyer filed a tort claim notice. This comes less than a week after five others also threatened to sue as fallout from the police department's wiretapping scandal.
Boykins' attorney claims his client feels the demotion was racially motivated.
The tort claim notice, which is a step anyone must take before they file a lawsuit against a city, says Mayor Pete Buttigieg had a "continued defiant and aggressive stance against [Boykins] that can only be seen as motivated by racial animus.”
It also states the mayor has demoted or gotten rid of the three highest ranking African American employees in the city.
“He has replaced Chief Boykins with a white man who was recently fired for malfeasance in law enforcement,” the tort claim reads. "And, he has ignored the fact that the U.S. Attorney's Office, upon completing its investigation of the longstanding wire tapping procedures in the SBPD has determined there no cause to pursue the matter further."
Boykins resigned his post as police chief the last week in March. But the next day, when he tried to take back that resignation, Buttigieg said it was too late.
Buttigieg has also said federal investigators told him he must make personnel changes in the department to avoid federal prosecution.
So what happens from here?
The city has 90 days to respond to the notice if it wants to settle out of court.
Or the city could ignore it and the letter says after 90 days Boykins will file suit.
How much could the city have to pay if this goes to court and Boykins wins?
According to the notice, Boykins' drop in pay as a result of the demotion is about $10,000 per year and he is eligible to work as an officer for at least 15 more years.
The notice also says they don't know the full extent of damages because of the defamation accusations and "intentional infliction of emotional distress."
It’s been a tumultuous year so far at the South Bend Police Department. WSBT wondered how the rank and file are dealing with the wiretapping fallout. How is morale, and what effect, if any, is it having on public safety?
It all started about five months ago, with a federal wiretapping investigation into the department's telephone recording procedures. That led to the resignation then demotion of the police chief and firing of the communications director. Now it’s grown into the threat of potential lawsuits against the city.
“There’s probably some distraction [among officers],” said FOP #36 President and SBPD Lt. Steve Noonan. “I wouldn’t say if it’s really morale down.”
But is that distraction affecting the way officers do their jobs?