KALAMAZOO (AP) — A former police officer in southern Michigan has filed a lawsuit alleging he was unlawfully fired after complaining about discrimination based on his Egyptian descent.
Amir Khillah, 38, filed the lawsuit Monday against the Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety. He alleges the agency violated his civil rights and federal whistleblower protections by kicking him off the force following his complaints about a sergeant’s alleged discriminatory behavior.
Khillah started working for the department in May 2015. Khillah alleges in the lawsuit that his supervisor called him a racist slur and chastised him for issuing a warning instead of a ticket to a black motorist on Feb. 6.
“(The sergeant) effectively reprimanded Khillah for not citing a black motorist and instructed Khillah to cite African-American citizens based on their race,” the lawsuit states.
Police Chief Karianne Thomas declined comment.
Khillah filed a complaint with human resources that same month for discriminatory treatment by the sergeant. In his complaint, Khillah cited the racial slur, the instructions to ticket black drivers and an incident where he was reassigned from investigation duty to lesser responsibilities.
The city fired Khillah in March based on a misconduct report for the February traffic stop, according to the lawsuit. The sergeant said Khillah had mishandled the situation. But Khillah alleges the misconduct report contains false information and was retaliatory.
He seeks back pay, punitive damages and money to cover legal costs.
Khillah and his attorney also met Tuesday with city officials to appeal his firing so he could be reinstated as a Kalamazoo police officer. A final decision is expected within a week.
“I would like to continue to serve the community,” Khillah said. “Hopefully the board sees it our way and I’ll be back in uniform on the streets soon.”
Khillah said he became an American citizen after seeking asylum in the U.S. years ago because he faced oppression as a Christian in Egypt.
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