ANCHORAGE -

An Anchorage jury has ruled against a pair of former Anchorage Police Department detectives on two of their three primary claims in a lawsuit which alleges that they were victims of racial discrimination.

According to a special verdict form sealed since early April while Superior Court Judge Frank Pfiffner was on vacation, the jury found that APD’s refusal to promote Eliezer Feliciano wasn’t due to his race. Members also found that neither Feliciano nor Alvin Kennedy faced a hostile work environment created by the municipality on racial grounds.

The jury left unmarked a third key yes-or-no question on the form: “Did the Municipality of Anchorage retaliate against the plaintiffs because they engaged in legally protected conduct?” It also didn’t answer three questions it only needed to address if it said yes to any of the first three, including whether the city had used APD’s work environment to “constructively discharge” Feliciano and Kennedy from their jobs.

After hearing the verdict, plaintiff’s attorney Ken Legacki says he had hoped the jury would see their side on at least some points of the lawsuit.

“It's very hard for white folks to understand discrimination, and so we understand that it's very difficult for white folks to appreciate in a law that it is very difficult to try and win a discrimination case,” Legacki said. “But the retaliation and constructive discharge is much different.”

For APD Chief Mark Mew, the partial verdict is proof that the city did the right thing in fighting the suit.

“It is satisfying to know that the jury apparently agreed with what we did, on at least a portion of this matter, and was unable to decide that we did wrong on the rest of it,” Mew said. “It's definitely not a full victory on either side, but it makes us feel like we're on the right track.”

The $4 million lawsuit by Kennedy, a black man, and Feliciano, who is Hispanic, revolves around APD’s conduct roughly four years ago while they were members of its now-disbanded Metro anti-drug unit. During an emotional trial in March, both men claimed they had been pulled over by fellow officers due to their race, bringing their grievances against the department before the 14-member jury.

In a potentially pivotal moment on the jury’s undecided point, APD Lt. Nancy Reeder -- a former commander in Metro -- testified before Chief Mark Mew that while she didn’t see racism in the unit’s dress code, she had personally been retaliated against for filing complaints about a colleague.

Under cross-examination from Ken Legacki, Feliciano and Kennedy’s attorney, Mew said that he didn’t preside over Metro’s eventual disbanding, but was told it had occurred because the unit didn’t meet performance standards. He didn’t know whether it would have been cheaper, as Legacki asked, for APD to recruit more minority officers than it cost to fight the lawsuit.

The city has spent at least $350,000 defending itself against the lawsuit despite settling similar claims, hiring attorney Linda Johnson to handle the Kennedy-Feliciano case.

The case is not over yet. Pfiffner must decide if he will accept the partial verdict and hold a retrial for the remaining unanswered questions, or retry the entire case. Either way, his court calendar doesn't have an opening until June 2015.

Channel 2’s Mallory Peebles contributed information to this story.