Jasper police chief applicant sues city after losing job to less qualified black man

Michelle Keahey, East Texas Bureau Jul. 11, 2011, 10:31am

An applicant for the chief of police for the city of Jasper has filed a lawsuit claiming his civil rights were violated after another applicant was chosen for the position.

Claiming he was more qualified than the other applicant, James C. Walters filed suit against the city of Jasper on June 29 in the Eastern District of Texas, Beaumont Division.

According to the lawsuit, the job notice for the position of police chief was posted on Feb. 23. Walters argues that Rodney Pearson, an African-American, was appointed to serve in the position on Feb. 14.

Seven applicants were considered for finalists for the position based on evaluation scores ranging from 7 to 10. Without additional explanation, the list of finalists included applicants Rodney Pearson and Franklin Hall. Walters argues that he scored higher than both of these men but was not included in the list of finalists.

"Despite receiving a score that put Pearson third from the bottom of the list, and clearly not meeting the education, training, and experience requirements set out in the job posting, Pearson was included as a finalist and ultimately was offered and accepted the job of Police Chief for the City of Jasper, Texas, on or about April 22, 2011," the lawsuit states.

The plaintiff is seeking an award of actual damages for mental anguish, lost income, punitive damages, court costs and attorney's fees.

Walters is represented by Lance P. Bradley and Jill S. Chatelain of McPherson, Hughes, Bradley, Wimberley, Steele & Chatelain in Port Arthur. A jury trial is requested.

U.S. District Judge Marcia A. Crone is assigned to the case.

Case No. 1:11-cv-00318

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