Though it wasn't exactly the outcome the former Columbus officer had hoped for, Alicia Davenport walked out of the courtroom Thursday feeling vindicated.
It's been almost three years since Davenport was a member of the Columbus Police Department's Narcotics and Vice Unit. During her tenure she claims she was subjected to discrimination and retaliation at the hands of several of her fellow police officers.
She filed a discrimination and retaliation suit against the city, her former co-workers and Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren in 2006. The case went to trial last week.
After two full days of deliberations a jury found that officers Dean Walton, Rodney Spear and David Horiuchi intentionally discriminated against Davenport based upon her gender during the approximate 18 months she worked in the Narcotics and Vice Unit.
The jury also found Davenport suffered in her capacity as an undercover officer within the unit because of the discrimination she was subjected to.
Pertaining to her claim of race discrimination, the jury concluded there was not enough evidence to show that defendants Walton, Spear and Horiuchi discriminated against Davenport based upon her race.
For her suffering, Davenport could be awarded $5,000, as per the jury's recommendation. Davenport's attorney, Gwyn Newsom, says the the recommended damages fall short of the value of what she thinks her client had suffered.
"We feel vindicated," Newsom said. "But of course the amount included in their verdict to compensate her for what she went through, obviously she thinks that what she suffered was worth more than that."
Newsom went on to say Davenport was clear from the beginning that money was not the motivating factor in this suit. She filed the civil lawsuit because she wanted to stand up against gender and race discrimination in the workplace and show other women they have a right to reject such treatment, Newsom said.
The city can expect a motion to be filed within the next 30 days seeking compensation for attorneys' fees, Newsom said. That amount could total $200,000 for the extensive work and time she and two other attorneys put into the case.
Rebecca Miller, who represented the city, argued at trial that Davenport never mentioned race or gender discrimination in her initial written or verbal complaints to her superiors. It was only in her complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission on Jan. 12, 2006 that the former officer claimed race and gender discrimination. Furthermore, each defendant denied ever leaving Davenport without backup when she went undercover.
Columbus Police Chief Ricky Boren was removed from the civil lawsuit in late August and though the jury found that Davenport had reasonably asserted her claims of race and gender discrimination, they did not agree that the chief pulled her from the unit in retaliation for her making such claims.
Miller was not available to comment on the verdict this evening.