JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Former Lake City cops are suing their department for discrimination. They all claim the color of their skin cost them their jobs.
"Police work is my life. That's my profession, my chosen profession, and I don't know what else to do," said fired Captain Robert Smith.
Smith was terminated from the Lake City Police Department Tuesday after a year-long internal affairs investigation.
Smith said he was targeted for agreeing to testify at the trial of another black officer who also alleged racial discrimination in the department.
"I stand up for what's right. Sometimes standing up for what's right has consequences, and that's why I'm in the situation I am in now," he said.
He's not the only one.
Since 2010, the department has terminated four black police officers.
They all filed racial discrimination complaints while still employed with the department, and all four are bringing their cases to court.
"There are four of us sitting here, and it's not a coincidence that we are all sitting here similarly situated," he said.
Officers Shawn Raggins, Rudolph Davis and Christopher Hughes all have lawyers, and all have filed federal lawsuits.
In paperwork, they claim the Chief of Police, Argatha Gilmore, a black female, specifically targeted them because of their race.
"It's unfair. It's unjust, and we have to say enough is enough," said Raggins.
"At some point the city council has got to say enough is enough, and they need to start questioning the city manager, Wendell Johnson, who is ultimately accountable for the city, and the chief of police," he said.
Chief Gilmore declined to comment for this story, and when we went to City Manager Johnson's home, he refused to come to the door.
In court paperwork, a lawyer for the city asserts that all three of the lawsuits are without merit, but the fired officers all said they intend to fight.
"I'm not a quitter, so I'm going to fight to the end because I feel like nothing good comes easy," said Davis.
Davis' trial is scheduled in federal court in September, where all four of these men expect to testify.
"Ultimately when I go home and I look at myself in the mirror, I like what I see on the other side because I did the right thing," said Smith.
Capt. Smith's lawyer intends to file the discrimination and wrongful termination lawsuit on his behalf Friday.
First Coast News