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Police Lieutenant Files Discrimination Suit Against Dallas

Dallas Morning News via YellowBrix

October 12, 2010

DALLAS – A Dallas police lieutenant says she was denied a promotion in the wake of her officer husband’s slaying because she is a black woman, according to a lawsuit filed against the city.

Lt. Regina Smith said City Manager Mary Suhm denied her a promotion to deputy chief in May 2009 – four months after Dallas police Senior Cpl. Norman Smith was fatally shot in the line of duty – because it was too early in the grief process to promote her, according to the lawsuit filed earlier this month.

Smith said then-Chief David Kunkle promised her in front of then-Assistant Chief Charlie Cato that he would promote her at a later date. Later that year, Smith was transferred from her post as Kunkle’s administrative lieutenant to the Southeast Patrol Division.

The new position “would have been in line with being promoted by Chief Kunkle to the position of deputy chief at the southeast division, as promised,” the lawsuit said.

But early this year, Kunkle promoted Tammy Ellzey, who is white, to deputy chief and assigned her as commander at Southeast Patrol. Smith said in the lawsuit that Kunkle then reversed himself and said he had not promised her a promotion.

Smith was transferred to Southwest Patrol after she filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. She said that transfer was retaliation for her complaint, according to the lawsuit.

The Dallas County lawsuit seeks unspecified damages, including compensation for lost wages, mental anguish, and pain and suffering.

Kunkle, who retired in May, did not return a call seeking comment. A city spokesman said officials had not seen the lawsuit and therefore could not comment.

During his nearly six years as chief, Kunkle promoted at least a dozen women and minority police officers to key positions on his command staff. Among them was the top deputy for most of his term, current Police Chief David Brown, who is black, and current First Assistant Chief Cato, who is Hispanic.

The Southeast Patrol commander prior to Ellzey was a black woman, as is the commander of the South Central Patrol Division. Kunkle promoted both.

Norman Smith, 43, and fellow Dallas police Gang Unit members were serving a warrant at a crime-ridden apartment complex when Smith was shot on Jan. 6, 2009.

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