SOUTH BEND – The fallout from a federal wiretapping investigation into the South Bend Police department continues to grow.
South Bend’s former police chief Darryl Boykins has filed a Charge of Discrimination complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, said his attorney, Tom Dixon. The complaint was filed in Indianapolis Friday, claiming Boykins was demoted in March because of racial bias. Dixon told WSBT the complaint had to be filed within 180 days of the alleged incident and said that deadline is close.
Fired South Bend Communications Director Karen DePaepe also filed a complaint with the EEOC in June, according to her attorney, Scott Duerring. Her complaint said she faced retaliation from the city because she was fired after she listened to conversations recorded on a line in the police department’s detective bureau.
It all comes on the heels of eight lawsuit threats against the city stemming from that wiretapping investigation.
DePaepe said she accidentally stumbled across racist and derogatory phone conversations on a line in the police department’s detective bureau in 2011.
This March, Police Chief Darryl Boykins said Mayor Buttigieg’s Chief of Staff forced him to resign and when he tried to rescind that resignation, the Mayor demoted him.
The mayor fired DePaepe a few months later. Buttigieg said federal authorities told him to follow through with “personnel changes” to avoid federal prosecution.
In June, County Metro Homicide Commander Tim Corbett, Assistant Commander Dave Wells, then Detective Bureau Chief Steve Richmond, South Bend Police Captain Brian Young and Young's wife filed tort claim notices against the city as victims, claiming they were recorded on Young’s phone line without their knowledge. Their lawyer says allegations they made racist or derogatory comments aren’t true and called them “unfounded.
“I think it’s probably a very high probability a lawsuit will be filed,” said Jeff Stesiak, partner at Pfeifer, Morgan & Stesiak. “Probably within a week."
The city legally had 90 days to respond to that lawsuit threat, filed June 11. That 90 days is up Sunday.
DePaepe also threatened to sue the city, claiming she was fired because she listened to those conversations. Her 90 days is up September 20.
When asked what he’s heard from the city, Duerring replied, “nothing.”
Boykins could also legally sue the city by the end of the month. His claim? He was demoted because he’s black.
“[We] haven’t had any communications with the city since filing that,” Dixon told WSBT.
When WSBT asked Mayor Buttigieg why the city hasn’t responded to the lawsuit threats, he said it’s not a great idea to get into pending litigation.
“I can tell you we’re aware of the threatened litigation and making sure we do the right thing for the city,” Buttigieg said.
The Mayor also issued a statement saying his office has not yet been served with any formal notice or any documentation of the EEOC legal action taken by Boykins or DePaepe.
South Bend's Common Council is also threatening to sue the city. A subpoena sent to the city last month asked the city to release the tapes that caused the federal investigation, but the mayor says it would be a federal crime to do so.
That decision is ultimately up to a federal judge because the city filed a Federal Declaratory Action in court last week, asking for a judge to make the decision on whether the tapes should be released.
That decision is ultimately up to a federal judge because the city asked that a judge make the decision on whether those tapes are released or not.