CHARLESTON - A Montgomery police officer accused of misconduct in at least two civil suits is alleging in one he filed recently that the city, and its former police chief, cut his hours when he refused to be more aggressive in making racially motivated arrests.

In a lawsuit filed Aug. 3 in Kanawha Circuit Court, Gary Perdue, 50, of Winifrede, alleges, despite receiving no formal notice of termination, he was let go from the Montgomery Police Department.

Instead of outright firing him, Perdue alleges former Montgomery Police Chief Pete Lopez, who is named as a co-defendant in the suit, stopped scheduling him for work.

Perdue specifically accuses Lopez of "discontinu[ing] scheduling the Plaintiff for shifts of police work which would allow him to maintain his second job." Perdue's second job is not stated in court records.

Instead, Perdue alleges Lopez gave the "requested shifts to employees with lesser seniority and with a more aggressive approach against the African-American citizenry of the city of Montgomery." Though he provides no specific dates or instances, Perdue maintains that his reduction/elimination of hours "was in retaliation, in whole or in part, for [his] refusal to obey orders from his supervisors to harass" black residents.

In his suit, Perdue alleges since he was removed from the active roster on Nov. 3, he has lost wages and benefits by being deprived of his occupation and employment. Despite the city hiring a new chief, Perdue says he "reasonably anticipates being continuously deprived of his occupation and employment in the future as a police officer in the city of Montgomery."

In May, Lopez resigned as police chief in the midst of multiple lawsuits filed against the city alleging rampant police misconduct, much of it racially motivated, and perpetrated by either former officers Matthew Leavitt or Shawn Hutchinson. Following their arrest of Twan and Lauren Reynolds, a mixed race couple from Beards Fork, on Sept. 26, Hutchinson was fired by Montgomery Mayor Jim Higgins, and Leavitt was placed on administrative leave.

Last month, Leavitt pled guilty to two misdemeanor charges of civil rights violations in connection to the Reynolds' arrest. As part of his plea agreement, Leavitt agreed to surrender his law enforcement certificate.

Perdue is represented by Charleston attorney and former Kanawha County Prosecutor Michael T. Clifford, who is representing the Reynolds' in a civil suit against the city. He is seeking unspecified damages.

Perdue's case is assigned to Judge Jennifer Bailey

Two other suits

Prior to filing his suit, Perdue was named as a defendant in two civil rights suits in U.S. District Court.

One filed by the United Transportation Union and Rick Chapman in 2007 alleged Perdue and other law enforcement officers violated Chapman's constitutional rights in requiring him to submit to a drug test, and a search of his belongings after the locomotive he was conducting accidentally struck and killed a man. On April 6, the city settled the suit for $34,000.

In September, Veronia B. Strickland, and her boyfriend Damian Wales, filed suit alleging they were subjected to repeated harassment and traffic stops by Perdue from May 2005 to August 2007 while as both a Montgomery police officer, and then-police chief of Smithers.

They allege Perdue would repeatedly stop the taxi cabs they operated, and threaten to shut them down unless they paid him $2,000. On Aug. 17, 2007, Strickland alleges Perdue purposefully roughed her up after an arrest only to release her without pressing any charges.

The arrest, the suit alleges, occurred shortly after Strickland found out her former bookkeeper had and affair with Perdue, and embezzled a reported $85,000 from her company, Ray's City Cab.

On Nov. 19, Judge Joseph Goodwin dismissed the cities of Montgomery and Smithers from the suit finding that some of the claims made were filed past the statute of limitations, and Perdue acted outside the scope of his employment. The case is scheduled for trial on Dec. 8.

Kanawha Circuit Court case number 09-C-1399

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