Nearly four years after two Anchorage Police Department officers said APD discriminated against them because of their race, a jury on Wednesday started taking a look at the department's policies.
Alvin Kennedy and Eliezer Feliciano claim they received disparate discipline and were denied promotions due to their race. Kennedy is black and Feliciano is Hispanic.
The 14-member jury started discussion of the lawsuit filed by the two former officers filed in 2010.
The Municipality of Anchorage is fighting their allegations, but attorney says the issues have already been reviewed and properly handled but now it will go over them again for the jury to decide.
Kennedy and Feliciano each say they were disciplined harsher than their non-minority coworkers, denied promotions and they, and others, experienced racial profiling while driving on Anchorage streets.
"You can't stop somebody for driving while black," said plaintiff attorney Ken Legacki.
Legacki explains that on multiple occasions officers racially profiled drivers and pulled them over without cause. He claims that it once happened to his client, Kennedy, allegedly pulled over while driving his undercover work vehicle to a personal errand. He claims the officer followed Kennedy for miles and even pulled up next to his car to look at him and racially profile him.
The municipality says an internal review of the situation showed that the officer was going to make a traffic stop because the plates did not match the car. Defense attorney Linda Johnson says the mismatched plates was part of the undercover operation of the unit where Kennedy worked.
"(The officer) tried to identify the driver of what he considered a potentially stolen vehicle before he pulled him over," Johnson said. "If the person gets out and runs away from the car he wanted to make sure he knew which of the people on the sidewalk was the driver of that car."
The two men are asking for $2 million each for damages in lost wages.