Jury agrees police department retaliated against its own officer
OKLAHOMA CITY (KOKH) —
For the last 24 years, Lt. Phil Williams has had a badge and a promise to protect and serve Oklahoma City as a member of the police department. But six years ago he found something troubling with a police supervisor and a jury now says his speaking up cost him.
This week a jury awarded Williams $210,000 after a nearly two-week federal trial that pitted Williams against the city and Oklahoma City Police Chief Bill Citty.
“I physically felt like there was a release and a relief from what had been going on for six years,” Williams told FOX 25.
Williams, a 24-year veteran of the department, alleged that as a detective he found evidence of wrong doing by a police captain during his investigation into a multi-million-dollar auto-theft ring. Williams claimed he was retaliated against for speaking out about what he found.
“I was standing up for myself trying to do what is right, not trying to be right, just to do what's right,” he said.
Williams, once a detective, was eventually transferred to a post at the Oklahoma City jail. In court he claimed his voicing concerns led to him being denied better positions.
“I truly don't feel like I’m using my full potential as a police officer, but that is the assignment given me at the time so I’m going to do the best i can while I’m there.”
Over the past six years Williams faced internal discipline. However, in 2015 an arbitrator ruled that discipline was improper and ordered his record to be cleared. The internal victory was good, Williams said, but he sued for further vindication in hopes of setting a precedent.
“The main goal in this was to ensure that perhaps with this we end up with some procedural justice at the police department,” Williams told FOX 25, “Whereby at least we treat our own people as well as we treat the people we end up having to arrest.”
Police Chief Citty declined our request for an interview but sent a statement that said, "As chief, I have always tried to do the right thing to maintain the trust of the public and integrity of the Oklahoma City Police Department. The decisions I made in the internal investigations of the cases heard by the jurors were made for the same reasons."
The police department is not commenting on any potential appeal.
The city says if the case is not appealed, the jury’s award will be paid with ad valorem tax dollars.