Flint City Council has signed off on a $24,500 payment to a former city police investigator who claimed he was demoted in the department after reporting the possible mistreatment of another officer. The lawsuit claimed Flint Police Chief Tim Johnson retaliated against Rodney Williams after he allegedly corroborated gender discrimination allegations that Capt. Leigh Golden brought against Johnson and the department.
On Monday, Jan. 8, City Council voted 8-0 to award Williams the settlement in the case. The deal must be stamped by Flint’s state-appointed Receivership Transition Advisory Board (RTAB) before becoming official.
A city spokesperson could not immediately be reached for comment on the settlement, but Johnson has previously denied any wrongdoing in the matter.
Williams’ attorney, Dean Yeotis, declined comment on the pending settlement, citing a confidentiality agreement.
According to the lawsuit, Williams spent 29 years with the Flint Police Department and the last 18 as a sergeant, investigating allegations of wrongdoing and illegal conduct of Flint police officers. He also recommended discipline and discharge of police when appropriate.
Claiming violation of Michigan’s Whistleblower Protection Act and the state’s Civil Rights Act, Williams alleged he was demoted from FBI task force and internal affairs investigator to night patrol after confirming information provided by Golden about harassment, discrimination and retaliation the police captain claimed to receive from Johnson.
In October 2016, Golden filed a separate suit – still pending in court – against the city and chief after she was reassigned, claiming she was discriminated against because she is a woman, transferred out of her patrol position, verbally abused and retaliated against when she reported illegal activity.
When Williams reported the alleged discrimination against Golden to Johnson and other city officials, Johnson was visibly angry, the lawsuit claimed.
About a week after providing his investigative statement to the police chief, Williams was told he was transferred from internal affairs and Federal Bureau of Investigation task force to night shift patrol.
“It’s totally not true,” said Johnson on Nov. 10, 2016, about Williams’ lawsuit. “I can’t make a comment on this, though. It was pretty much restructuring of the department.”
For information, education, and answers to frequently asked questions about Whistleblowers, see the Whistleblower FAQ and Education Page.