A Pennsylvania State Trooper won nearly $2 million in the second of two racial discrimination lawsuits against his superiors.
The NBC10 investigators first spoke to Sergeant David Holt in 2013 after he filed the first lawsuit against one of his superiors at the Pennsylvania State Police Poconos barracks.
“Today in 2013, racism is a lot more cunning,” Holt told NBC10. “You’re not going to get the proverbial smoking gun where somebody is going to call you the ‘N’ word.”
Holt said his ordeal began when he tried to get transferred to the King of Prussia barracks.
“I was getting feedback from a lot of the troopers, some friends, some colleagues, that I was not welcome there,” Holt said.
Holt claimed 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.
Holt’s attorney, Alexis Zafferes, claimed 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.”
In 2009, Holt filed a lawsuit against one of his superiors, claiming he was intentionally discriminated against. After a week-long trial, the judge agreed, awarding him $50,000 in damages in 2013.
Holt filed a second lawsuit against two superiors at the King of Prussia barracks. On Nov. 5, he was awarded $1.9 million in connection to that suit.
Holt told NBC10 he hoped his actions would 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.”
Holt is still working with the Pennsylvania State Police Poconos barracks. NBC10 reached out to them for comment. We have not yet heard back from them however.