Bomb Squad Member Files Racial Bias Claim

The first black member of the Los Angeles Police Department's bomb squad has filed a $5-million claim against the LAPD, alleging that he was forced to go on stress leave because of racial discrimination and harassment by white officers in the unit.

Officer John A. Francois, who has been on medical leave since June, was subjected to "abuse, retaliation, harassment and discriminatory conduct" by fellow officers and superiors in the bomb squad, according to the claim filed Aug. 26 by attorneys with the Los Angeles firm McNicholas & McNicholas.

Lawyer Eric Gowey said Francois was shunned, subjected to racial jokes and profanity, and denied opportunities for advancement.

Police Chief Bernard C. Parks and Lt. Steve Allen, who was Francois' supervisor on the bomb squad and was named in the complaint, both declined to comment on the claim. Such claims, if denied, often are precursors to a lawsuit.

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