In a closing argument this morning, attorney Gwyn Newsom suggested to the jury that her client Byron Hickey should receive about $866,000 in punitive damages from the city of Columbus.
Hickey is a Columbus police officer who claims the city discriminated against him because he spoke out against a perceived racial and gender bias.
Cpl. Hickey claims in his federal suit that his superiors retaliated against him when he spoke up for former officer Alicia Davenport. Hickey alleges he received a negative review after speaking up and was placed on administrative assignment meaning he couldn't earn extra income for off duty jobs and that he was transferred out of the Vice and Narcotics Division.
Davenport, who's no longer with the police department, filed a federal suit in December. The black woman alleged she didn't get the same backup white officers received while doing undercover work. She won her case in September 2008 and received $5,000.
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Today, Newsom said that a verdict with a high cash amount would sent a strong message that the city "can't silence our voices of conscience."
She asked the jury to give Hickey his "dignity."
Attorney Kirsten Stevenson, representing the city, said, "this case is a shame" and said that even a guilty verdict with an amount of $1 would send the wrong message.
She told the jury that the city and police chief Ricky Boren don't "tolerate racism, discrimination or retaliation."
Stevenson said of Hickey, "crying racism is not the way to get what you want."