Ex-Bay Area Officer Settles Retaliation Lawsuit | Courthouse News Service
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Ex-Bay Area Officer Settles Retaliation Lawsuit

A former officer who claimed the police chief hit on him has settled his wrongful termination suit against the Bay Area city of Richmond.

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) – A former officer who claimed the police chief hit on him has settled his wrongful termination suit against the Bay Area city of Richmond.

Former officer Richard Hauschild sued the city in April 2015, claiming he was fired for complaining that then-Police Chief Christopher Magnus sexually harassed him and made racial slurs.

The former chief, who now heads the police department in Tucson, Arizona, called the claims “bogus,” saying Hauschild knew he would be vulnerable to such accusations “as a police chief who happens to be gay.”

Hauschild, hired in 2005, said Magnus made unwanted sexual advances one night when Hauschild was assigned to protect the chief's home after threats were made against the chief.

The fired officer said Magnus, "while dressed in questionable civilian attire," inappropriately touched his arm and rubbed his upper leg" "in an obvious sexual manner." He said before that incident, the chief also called his personal phone several times, which made him "feel uncomfortable."

After complaining about the chief's conduct, Hauschild said Magnus became "furious" and "engaged in a pattern of retaliatory conduct," which included denying Hauschild overtime and removing him from the SWAT team.

When Hauschild got into a domestic dispute over child custody with his ex-wife, he said Magnus seized the opportunity as a pretext to fire him in December 2013.

The city maintains Hauschild was fired after an investigation found he made false statements about the domestic dispute and that he was the primary aggressor in a physical altercation with his ex.

Hauschild also claimed he was discriminated against because he is Asian-American. Additionally, Hauschild said Maguns made racist comments about African-Americans and Latinos and asked him to lie during an investigation into a racial discrimination complaint.

After his suit was filed, Hauschild dropped claims of sexual harassment against the former chief.

In June last year, U.S. District Judge William Alsup granted summary judgment in favor of the city on Hauschild's claims of race-based retaliation, but refused to rule on whether the city unjustly fired Hauschild by considering old evidence during his disciplinary hearing.

Hauschild argued that Magnus improperly considered conduct that occurred more than a year before when overseeing his disciplinary hearing, in violation of the one-year statute of limitations set by the state's Peace Officers Procedural Bill of Rights.

A jury was set to resolve that question this week. But on Feb. 16, five days before the trial was set to start, the parties reached a settlement agreement.

Alsup signed a stipulation dismissing the suit with prejudice on Friday.

Richmond's city manager, City Attorney's Office and Hauschild's attorney, David Poore of Browne Poore in Walnut Creek, did not return phone calls seeking comment Friday and Tuesday.

After earning a reputation as a progressive chief who held a "Black Lives Matter" sign at a protest and presiding over a sharp decline in homicides during his 10-year tenure, Magnus left Richmond in January 2016 to head the police department in Tucson.

Magnus in 2012 had defeated a separate lawsuit brought by seven high-ranking black police officers seeking $18 million. The sergeants, lieutenants and captains claimed the chief made racist comments and favored non-black staff. Magnus and the city argued those officers were merely resistant to change and resented Magnus because he is white, gay and an outsider.

In January 2016, the city hired Allwyn Brown, a black Oakland native and 31-year veteran of the Richmond Police Department, to succeed Magnus.

Richmond, population 108,000, is northwest of Berkeley in Contra Costa County.

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