First black police chief of Jasper settles discrimination lawsuit

JASPER, TX (KTRE) - Jasper's first black police chief reached a settlement with the City of Jasper and other co-defendants in an federal civil rights lawsuit filed in 2012.

Rodney Pearson sued the defendants after he was wrongfully terminated because of his race. Parties involved in the lawsuit agreed to pay the former chief of police $831,000.00.

According to Bernsen Law Firm in Beaumont, the settlement is the largest employment discrimination verdict/settlement in Jasper County history.

In June 2012, Jasper City Council Members voted to dismiss Pearson of his duties, it was said he was fired over poor job performance.

Many residents, and city council members that voted against firing Pearson said the dismissal was based on race.

In a press release, Bernsen Law Firm stated City of Jasper officials intentionally posted different qualifications and education requirements than what were set forth in Jasper's handbook.

The release also stated, Jasper officials attempted to implement a "scoring system" that had never been used for any previous white chief and was not used to hire the current white chief.

At the time of litigation Jasper officials admitted that the "scoring system" was altered and it was discovered upon the inaccurate job posting. Neither was approved by members of the entire city council.

Jasper's mayor, Mike Lout, and members of the League of Concerned Citizens, maintained Pearson's firing was never personal nor was it about race. In previous KTRE reports, it was stated they did not feel he met the qualifications to hold the position.

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