Former Fort Wayne police chief sues FWCS for discrimination

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 6:19 PM EST
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FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WPTA) - The city of Fort Wayne’s first black police chief is suing Fort Wayne Community Schools over claims that he was “repeatedly passed over” for a position because of his race, according to a federal lawsuit.

Garry Hamilton was with the Fort Wayne Police department for more than 24 years before retiring in 2019. He served as chief from January 2014 through July 2016, before taking a position as head of the department’s community relations division.

According to the lawsuit, Hamilton applied for the Security Supervisor position with FWCS in 2019 and 2021. The complaint says he was passed over without “reason, cause, or explanation.” Instead, the position was filled with “Caucasian individuals who were less qualified” than the former chief and in one case the individual who was hired “was not as educated” the lawsuit alleges.

Hamilton initially applied for the position in 2019. According to court documents, Hamilton believed he was “imminently qualified” for the job based on his experience in law enforcement, which includes his work as a special crimes investigator. A white candidate was chosen instead.

In August 2021, Hamilton applied again when the same position opened up. Hamilton was passed up for the position again despite Hamilton’s “significant qualifications and relevant experience,” the complaint said. Instead FWCS hired a white candidate with no college degree.

A month later, Hamilton learned the same position was open again. He applied again. He was notified in October that the position had been “filled or closed,” according to the complaint.

The complaint contends that the district did not hire him based on his race, which would be in violation of his federal rights.

Hamilton and a spokesperson for FWCS declined to comment.

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court, Northern District of Indiana, Fort Wayne.