State Trooper Sues for Racial Discrimination

By NBC10 Investigators
|  Wednesday, Nov 13, 2013  |  Updated 7:03 PM EDT
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A Pennsylvania State Trooper fought back after he says he was racially discriminated against by his own department. NBC10's Harry Hairston spoke one on one with the trooper.

NBC10.com - Harry Hairston

A Pennsylvania State Trooper fought back after he says he was racially discriminated against by his own department. NBC10's Harry Hairston spoke one on one with the trooper.

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A Pennsylvania State Trooper says he decided to fight back after he was discriminated against by his own department.

“Today in 2013, racism is a lot more cunning,” said Sergeant David Holt. “You’re not going to get the proverbial smoking gun where somebody is going to call you the ‘N’ word.”

Holt says his ordeal began when he tried to get transferred to the King of Prussia barracks back in 2011.

“I was getting feedback from a lot of the troopers, some friends, some colleagues, that I was not welcome there,” Holt said.

Holt claims the lieutenant in charge compared him to a previous black sergeant who was demoted for being lazy and incompetent.

“My professional character was assassinated before I even entered into the troop,” Holt said.

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Holt’s attorney, Alexis Zafferes, claims the comparison in that context demonstrated a racist attitude by the lieutenant.

“Why is he comparing him to another black sergeant?” she asked. “There was no other reason besides the fact that these were the only two black sergeants who have ever been under the lieutenant’s command.”

Holt filed a lawsuit, claiming he was intentionally discriminated against. After a week-long trial, the judge agreed, awarding him $50,000 in damages.

Holt, who retired before the trial began, says he hopes his actions will inspire others in similar situations to also fight back.

“I think there’s reluctance from a lot of minorities,” Holt said. “You’re thinking that you’re challenging your superiors and the Pennsylvania State Police. That’s a daunting task.”

While Holt named two other high ranking officials in the lawsuit, the jury was unable to decide whether they did or didn’t do anything wrong. NBC10 reached out to the state’s attorney who declined to comment.

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