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City Settles Lawsuit Brought On Behalf Of NYPD Officer Fired For Revealing Racial Profiling After Diallo Shooting

New York City has settled a lawsuit brought by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of Yvette Walton, the New York City Police Officer who was fired shortly after speaking publicly about racial profiling by the NYPD Street Crime Unit in the aftermath of the February 1999 shooting death of Amadou Diallo by four white members of the Street Crime Unit. Under the settlement, the City has agreed to reinstate Ms. Walton so she can retire from the NYPD with a full pension, has agreed to pay her $327,500, and has agreed to seal her personnel records.

Ten days after the Diallo shooting, Officer Walton appeared with her identity disguised at a press conference sponsored by 100 Blacks in Law Enforcement Who Care and spoke about the racial profiling that she had witnessed in the Street Crime Unit when she was the sole female African-American member of that unit patrolling the street. She later appeared on the ABC program “Nightline” and testified before the New York City Council (both times in disguise). Shortly after her City Council testimony in April 1999, the NYPD abruptly fired Ms. Walton.

The NYCLU then filed suit on behalf of Ms. Walton, and in November 2000 federal judge Alvin Hellerstein ruled that the NYPD had fired Ms. Walton in retaliation for her public statements, rejecting the testimony of then NYPD Commissioner Howard Safir that the Department did not know her identity and instead had fired her for disciplinary reasons. In July 2001 Judge Hellerstein ordered Ms. Walton reinstated and that the Department pay her $55,000.

The City vowed to appeal, and the parties started settlement negotiations, which were long delayed because of September 11 and the change of mayoral administration. A final settlement was recently reached, and late last week the parties received notice that Judge Hellerstein had approved the settlement.

NYCLU Associate Legal Director Christopher Dunn said, “Ms. Walton is proud that she spoke out about racial profiling by the Street Crime Unit and is proud of her many years of service as a police officer. She has been completely vindicated, and with this settlement she intends to move on with her life.“

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