A federal judge awarded $20,000 Wednesday to a white Los Angeles police lieutenant who contended that his civil rights were violated when he was passed over for a promotion in favor of a less-qualified black officer.
U.S. District Judge William D. Keller refused, however, to issue an injunction that would have curbed the Los Angeles Police Department's affirmative action program.
Keller said that although race figured in the selection process, it was unclear which, if any, of the city's affirmative action policies the department employed in its decision to deny Lt. Richard Dyer the promotion.
"As a result," Keller wrote, "the court does not believe that the [affirmative action] policy is properly before it."
Patrick J. Manshardt, attorney for Dyer and the Individual Rights Foundation, said, "We are profoundly disappointed that the judge declined to give the LAPD some much-needed guidance in the application of affirmative action policy."
Assistant City Atty. Robert Cramer could not be reached for comment on the judge's ruling Wednesday.
Dyer had asked for $400,000 in compensation for emotional distress and an injunction that would have narrowly tailored affirmative action policy to address racial and gender underrepresentation in specific pools of qualified applicants instead of the general city work force, which is the current practice.
Dyer claimed that Lt. Michael Williams was selected over him and another white candidate in 1996 to be a watch commander in the Air Support Division. Williams is African American.
After a weeklong trial, Keller said that although Williams, now a lieutenant with the department's Special Investigations Section, is a "superb" officer, he was not the most qualified for the promotion. He said the other white candidate, Lt. Ronald Newton, should have gotten the job.
Newton, now retired and part of a force training police in Bosnia, was not a plaintiff in the case. Dyer is assigned to the anti-terrorism division.
Dyer's attorneys warned in a statement that the LAPD can expect to see more lawsuits like Dyer's "until their practices are fair to all officers and applicants regardless of race."