The Portland City Council will vote Wednesday to pay $84,000 to settle a 2020 lawsuit filed by a member of the Portland Police Bureau (PPB) accusing the city of employment discrimination and retaliation.
James Crooker, who is now a police captain, made a list of allegations against city and PPB leaders in his 2020 trial.
First, he accused the city of not giving him preferential treatment for promotions in 2017 and 2020 because of his veteran status (Oregon law requires public employees to give job preference veterans). Second, he accused PPB management of not promoting him because he is Hispanic. Then he accused PPB of retaliation after Crooker filed a nepotism complaint against then-chief Jami Resch, accusing Resch of wrongfully promoting her fiancé to a PPB position he was not for. qualified. Crooker says his salary was frozen and he was denied a chance for promotion shortly after filing the complaint.
Crooker also cited retaliation for being placed on administrative leave after defending his wife, who was the victim of an assault case, while wearing his PPB uniform. Crooker’s wife and two other people were assaulted and chased by a man in Sellwood in 2019. Crooker complained that detectives took the suspect to undergo behavioral health treatment instead of jail after his arrest, a issue he raised again in a meeting with his wife at the district attorney’s office regarding his case.
Crooker had attended the meeting to support his wife as a member of the public, not as a representative of PPB, but wore his uniform to the meeting. Crooker said his supervisor gave him permission to wear the uniform. His role and advocacy at the meeting was flagged and reviewed in an internal investigation by PPB, and prompted him to be furloughed by Resch. While on leave, Crooker missed another promotion.
Crooker’s lawsuit demanded that the city pay more than $3 million to compensate him for lost wages, emotional damages and attorney fees.
Instead, the city agreed to settle the lawsuit for much less than $84,000, splitting the check between Crooker and his attorney. The settlement comes before council after the city’s risk management departments determine the city could be found guilty of Crooker’s charges in front of a jury. “Therefore, in order to avoid the risk of an adverse jury decision, we believe it is prudent to compromise the trial at this time,” reads the order, which is heading for a council vote on Wednesday.
Crooker currently earns more than $181,000 a year as a captain, according to City 2021-22 salary data recently published by the oregonian.