Three Black officers who worked under the police captain have sued the Buffalo Police Department.
Reporter Published Dec. 05, 2022 2:41PM ET The Daily Beast
The New York police captain at the center of a lawsuit against the city of Buffalo and its police department has been suspended without pay after being accused of going on a racist diatribe during a cop training session earlier this year and retaliating against officers who complained.
According to the nonprofit news outlet Investigative Post, an interim director will take over Capt. Amber Beyer’s duties as the head of the Buffalo Police Department’s Behavioral Health Team. The division manages mental health incidents “with professionalism, compassion, and concern for the safety of all involved,” according to the department’s website.
Three Black officers who worked directly under Beyer on the Behavioral Health Team filed a lawsuit on Nov. 21, alleging that Beyer turned up the racist rhetoric even after her rant during the training session was reported. Officers Brandon Hawkins and Katelynn Bolden and clinician Erica Seymore claim their rights were violated when they were subjected to racially discriminatory remarks in the workplace, and, in exchange, they’re seeking monetary damages and attorney fees.
“As a direct and proximate cause of the unlawful employment discrimination practices of Defendants City of Buffalo and Buffalo Police Department, [plaintiffs] have have suffered the indignity of race discrimination and great humiliation,” the filing states. According to the lawsuit, Officer Jason Wagstaff shared a video with the team on May 2 that showed white officers targeting and harassing a Black officer in uniform. Beyer allegedly said she could see “both sides” of the situation, and Bolden and Wagstaff attempted to explain to her the racist implications involved. Then, for 20 minutes, Beyer allegedly made a series of racist comments, including trying to justify why white people are racist against Black people. She allegedly claimed that Black men cheat on their wives more than white men, insisted that all Black police officers were unfaithful, and said she would be suspicious of a Black person in her majority-white neighborhood. The lawsuit also alleges that Beyer said white officers suffer from post-traumatic stress syndrome when they patrol Black neighborhoods—but Black officers don’t because they’re used to crime.
After the incident, officers whispered about the “awkward” exchange, according to the lawsuit, but one person eventually reported it to senior officials at the department, which led to an internal affairs report on May 11.
Beyer was allegedly irate about the ensuing investigation. The lawsuit claims that on May 11, she screamed about the probe to the rest of the Behavioral Health Team, calling Bolden and Wagstaff “liars.” Beyer displayed no remorse for her actions and created an uncomfortable, hostile environment, the court documents contend. Hawkins says he attempted to avoid Beyer due to her outbursts, and Beyer confronted him about it, according to the complaint.
Beyer allegedly upped the ante on Sept. 29 when she dramatically—and repeatedly—said the N-word while reading a Facebook post to the rest of her team. Co-workers asked Beyer to censor the word, but she refused.
Instead, she said she was “just reading the post,” according to the lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that Beyer’s behavior caused her colleagues to suffer from “economic damages, emotional distress, [and] humiliation and embarrassment,” for which each plaintiff should be awarded no less than $15 million each.
Neither Beyer nor the Buffalo Police Department immediately returned The Daily Beast’s request for comment Monday.