Ex-Medina police chief files federal suit over his firing
Former Medina Police Chief Jeffrey Chen, a Chinese American, claims in his federal lawsuit that he was the victim of racial bias and retaliation.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Former Medina Police Chief Jeffrey Chen claims in a federal lawsuit that he was wrongly fired last year as a result of racial bias and retaliation for giving the City Council information that embarrassed his boss.
City Manager Donna Hanson fired Chen last April, saying he lied during two investigations; forged police officers' names on memorandums voiding traffic tickets; used city property for personal benefit; destroyed records; and lost the confidence of his subordinates.
But in his lawsuit, filed last month in U.S. District Court in Seattle, Chen, a Chinese American, claims he was a victim of racial discrimination by Hanson, some police officers and some current and past City Council members.
According to the suit, Hanson once told Chen, "I thought you Chinese people were suppose [sic] to be more patient than this!" and an other occasion, "Do you people celebrate Thanksgiving?"
Chen also alleges Hanson was motivated to fire him because he told City Council members she was planning to give raises to some employees despite a council-directed salary freeze.
Chen, hired as a police captain in 2001 and promoted to chief in 2004, has denied all allegations made when he was fired.
Hanson and Stephanie Alexander, an attorney for the city, said they could not discuss pending litigation.
The city hasn't answered Chen's allegations but is arguing that his suit is premature because he hasn't received a "right-to-sue" letter from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and that his 78-page complaint must be rewritten because it is "excessively prolix" and "replete with repetitive and immaterial allegations."
Chen's firing has been a divisive issue in Medina, where the former chief's supporters asked the City Council to fire Hanson and reinstate the former police chief.
Keith Ervin: 206-464-2105 or firstname.lastname@example.org