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Durham assistant police chief alleges racial discrimination

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DURHAM, N.C. -

An assistant chief of police in Durham has filed a complaint against the City of Durham accusing Chief Jose Lopez of racially discriminatory comments and actions. 

 Assistant Police Chief Winslow Forbes, who joined the Durham Police Department in 1988, accuses Lopez of overlooking black officers for promotions. The complaint also details a female black officer being passed over because of her speech. 

Forbes said he confronted Lopez last summer after losing out on a promotion to a white applicant. The assistant chief claims Lopez became "defensive and angry." Forbes claims Lopez retaliated by denying him another promotion earlier this year. 

Forbes alleges that Lopez made racially insensitive remarks earlier this summer when he said, "all of the recent shooting victims in Durham were African-American and were involved in criminal activity." Lopez is also accused of saying one victim, a black attorney, "deserved to get shot because he was a public defender." 

Forbes also claims in 2011, Lopez said a female black lieutenant would not be a good candidate for promotion "because of her speech." In the filed complaint, her speech was characterized as "African-American vernacular English." 

The attorney for the City of Durham said no comment will be made on the complaint but said Durham "has a longstanding policy against illegal discrimination in the workplace." 

Caitlyn Thomson, attorney for Forbes, said the complaint was filed "to rectify a situation that affects the entire city of Durham.

"It's not a bottom-up organization, it's a top-down organization. And the chief sets the standard," Thomson said. 

A consultant with the City of Durham said in June the racial discrimination allegations were "not substantiated." The consultant was unable to determine the validity of Forbes' claims of retaliation. 

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