Massachusetts

Commission Rules Black State Trooper Was Victim of Racial Discrimination

The commission said state police supervisors discriminated against Sgt. Cleveland Coats when they removed him instead of less-experienced officers from the security detail of former Gov. Deval Patrick

A Black state trooper who worked on the security detail of former Gov. Deval Patrick was the victim of racial discrimination when he was removed from the team in 2013, the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination has ruled.

The commission didn’t blame Patrick, the state’s first Black governor, in the June decision, but concluded that state police supervisors had discriminated against Sgt. Cleveland Coats when they removed him instead of less-experienced white officers from the detail, The Boston Globe reported Wednesday.

The commission’s hearing officer also found evidence that white officers referred to Coats by a racially insensitive nickname. Coats has been awarded a judgment that has grown to more than $1.2 million.

Patrick, a Democrat, wrote a personal letter to his successor, Republican Gov. Charlie Baker, pushing back at the idea that race was a factor in Coats’s removal. The letter was dated Aug. 30 but released by Baker’s office recently, according to the Globe.

Patrick, who was not involved in the discrimination case, said the detail was “racially diverse and remained so after Coats’s transfer.”

The superintendent of the Massachusetts State Police said Friday he would seek termination for nearly two dozen members of Troop E involved in an overtime scandal.

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Patrick said he personally liked Coats but said he seemed “ill-at-ease with the frequent and significant public engagement that was a part of how we did the job.”

State police are appealing the decision.

State police initially moved to impound documents related to the case citing security concerns, Coats’s lawyer, Lisa Brodeur-McGan told the Globe. The decision was finally released in late October, although some documents have been withheld from the public.

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