Over $10 million in damages claimed in SCMPD lawsuits - WFXG FOX 54 - News Now

Over $10 million in damages claimed in SCMPD lawsuits

SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) -

Fourteen current and former Metro Police officers are claiming $10.5 million in damages.

They said they'll sue. Their allegations include sexual harassment, corruption and retaliation.

For more than six months they've been sending letters to the City of Savannah, threatening legal action, but no lawsuits have been filed.

The city said that all 14 of the officers and their attorney, Savannah lawyer Will Claiborne, may be looking to profit from upheaval in the Metro Police Dept.

The city manager is trying to turn the department around in the months since a detective's sexual harassment allegation against former Chief Willie Lovett first surfaced and his abrupt retirement.

The city has responded to all 14 intent to sue letters Claiborne has sent, countering all 14 officers' claims.

The city's position: take us to court.

"We deny any liability in these claims and we intend to defend the taxpayers of the City of Savannah," said city spokesman Bret Bell.

As to the estimated $10.5 million in damages Claiborne is claiming on behalf of his clients?

"We do not intend on paying any money," said Bell.

"What's unfortunate is that the city seems to be taking position that they won't participate in any negotiations or discussions whatsoever," said Claiborne.

If the city won't negotiate, Claiborne said he'll sure.

As to the assertion that officers are looking to profit from upheaval?

"What we have is 14 different individuals, all of whom have been harmed by their employment with the police department," said Claiborne. "The idea that any one of those 14 individuals showed up at work one day wanting to file a lawsuit against the city is just simply wrong."

Claiborne has shared each of these officers' claims with local media while the city has remained silent.

"We are going to respond as we should respond, which is in the court of law," said Bell.

City leaders said they're focused on the process of rooting out corruption and remaking the department.

"There's been a lot of good from it, and there will be a lot of good going forward. And we'll have a much stronger police department as a result," said Bell.

But Claiborne said his clients were wronged, and the city needs to make it right.

"A critical part of moving forward, in the right direction, is recognizing the harms that have been done in the past," said Claiborne.

Copyright 2014 WTOC. All rights reserved.

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