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Fired, pro-Black Lives Matter officer sues to get job back

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — A former Philadelphia police officer who was cleared of charges that he falsified records is suing to get his job back, saying officials were retaliating for his support of Black Lives Matter.

Bryan Turner, who is Black, sued the city and the Philadelphia Police Department this week in federal court, claiming systematic discrimination against him. The lawsuit seeks monetary damages and reinstatement with back pay.

A spokesman for the mayor’s office said the city does not comment on open litigation. A spokesman for the police department declined a request for comment.

Turner, 31, was fired in 2018 and arrested on charges attempted theft by deception, unsworn falsifying, obstructing justice and official oppression related to the reports department officials alleged had been falsified.

A Philadelphia judge this June cleared Turner of the charges after a five-day trial.

The department had alleged Turner listed a second officer in two arrests who had not been present in order to help steal potential overtime pay if that officer was called to testify. A supervisor also cited a discrepancy in his paperwork on a drug-related arrest detailing when alleged drugs were found or turned over to Turner.

Turner’s attorney, Melissa Freeman, argued in the criminal case that the discrepancies were clerical errors caused by a misunderstanding or by an autofill system for paperwork. Other officers were given the chance to fix those kinds of errors, she said, and in some cases the errors were exactly the same.

“The above-described allegations were mere pretext to conceal the discriminatory and retaliatory reasons adverse employment action was taken,” Freeman wrote in the lawsuit.

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